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Principals slam HEA results 'as not true figures'


Principal of Mercy College Patricia Dwyer with Leaving Cert student Hannah Kelly.

Principal of Mercy College Patricia Dwyer with Leaving Cert student Hannah Kelly.

Principal of Mercy College Patricia Dwyer with Leaving Cert student Hannah Kelly.

Two school principals in Dublin have revealed the challenges of encouraging their students to continue to third level education.

Their comments have come after the Higher Education Authority (HEA) released a report detailing the stark differences in the number of students going on to study at third level across different areas in Dublin.

The report detailed that schools in Dublin 6 had 99pc of students attending third level, but only 17pc in Dublin 17 and 16pc in Dublin 10 attending.

Patricia Dwyer, Principal of Mercy College in Coolock, feels that the HEA figures are not representative of the achievements of her students.


"The figure varies from year to year depending on the student cohort but almost 100pc of the girls undertake some form of further education, whether it be degree, diploma or FETAC.

"The majority of the girls who applied through CAO were very happy with the degree course they were offered and quite a few will be heading to DCU, others to NUI Maynooth, DIT and Trinity."

Ms Dwyer believes that the new access programme at Trinity College will revolutionise access to third level.

"I think the initiative undertaken by Trinity to look at alternative methods of entry other than points may offer possibilities, as would a system that took into account a wider range of strengths such as sporting or creative aptitude."

She also believes that the lack of confidence in young people can be the reason why they don't accept college places.

"A student may have the ability to move on to third level but because there is no history of further education in the family, the notion of heading to university may be daunting.

"It's a fear of the unknown really. For some, being involved in one of the various access programmes such as DCU Access or Trinity Access Programme (TAP), as we are, helps allay those fears."

Mary Daly is the Principal of Saint Dominic's College in Ballyfermot and says that her staff were shocked by the results as more students than ever from their school are moving onto further education.

"We have been working really hard to increase the number of students who access third level education.

"Last summer, 60pc of students went onto third level and that was up from 47pc the previous year.


"Unfortunately, the statistics are what people talk about, but we've been working really hard to break down barriers and bring about a change of mind-set about further education among young people in these areas.

"I believe there is beginning to be a change among young people now and they believe that they should access further education.

"It's all about encouraging young people to take on higher level subjects complete their leaving cert and go on to further study.

"Access programmes such as Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and TAP are hugely important in helping young people reach their goals."