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Postcode lottery for college-going across the capital

SCHOOL-leavers' chances of going to college vary wildly depending on where they're from in the capital, a report by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has found.

While 99pc of secondary school students go on to third-level education in affluent areas like Rathgar and Ranelagh, the figure drops to as low as 15pc in disadvantaged neighbourhoods like Darndale and parts of Coolock.

Overall, 47pc of 18-20 year-olds in Dublin attend third-level courses, below the national average of 51pc and trailing counties like Galway, which has a college-going rate of 60pc.

Despite efforts to boost college attendance, including the abolition of fees in the 1990s, the report found a postcode lottery in Dublin is a significant predictor of whether or not a young person will go to college.

HEA chief executive Tom Boland said "an uncomfortable and sobering fact is that deep reservoirs of educational disadvantage, mirroring in large part economic disadvantage, are part of the education story".

The 99pc attendance rate in Dublin 6 is the highest in the country, but there is a stark divide in the capital.

The numbers going to college from Dublin 17 on the city's northern fringe stands at 15pc, while Dublin 10, which includes Ballyfermot is only slightly higher at 16pc.

In Dublin 1, which includes the north inner city, the third-level attendance rate is 23pc and Dublin 2 on the other side of the Liffey is 26pc.

That's in contrast to neighbouring areas like Ballsbridge and Sandymount in Dublin 4 which have a rate of 84pc.

In Co Dublin, including towns like Swords, Balbriggan and Portmarnock, the rates are at 53pc.

Increasing demand from employers for third-level qualifications, coupled with a lack of jobs for school-leavers, means there has been a significant rise in college enrolments.

Nationally, the proportion of 18-20-year-olds in college has risen from 44pc to 52pc over the past five years.

The HEA report is in preparation for a new national strategy, focused on boosting third-level enrolments among groups that are under-represented in college, such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Mr Boland said that evidence shows that college students from disadvantaged backgrounds do as well, if not better, than others.

"We need more skilled graduates and would be tragic if the only way we can get that talent is through immigration," he said.