Statement from Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) in response to the publication by the Higher Education Authority of the spatial and socio-economic profiles of higher education institutions.
The HEA’s publication today, 21 October, of spatial and socio-economic profiles of higher education institutions in Ireland is a critical publication, which has the potential to influence policy around funding of higher education in order to benefit the most socio-economically disadvantaged students. It should be welcomed by the entire higher education system.
This Report outlines exactly where students are studying – from the most affluent to the most socio-economically disadvantaged, from the urban dwellers to the geographically isolated. It is a valuable piece of research and provides national data-sets on which socio-economic- and geo-profiles of students can be accurately built for the first time.
Much of the conclusions outlined in this Report have been acknowledged in the past by individual institutions, but we welcome the publication now of the collective data that supports these national findings. Of particular interest are some key data-sets that show:
- There is a clear relationship between socio-economic advantage and leaving certs points attainment; 82% of students from socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds achieve less than 405 leaving cert points
- the greater proportion of socio-economically disadvantaged and geographically isolated students attend higher education institutions in the technological higher education sector
- the Ratio of students from disadvantaged areas to every 10 students from affluent areas is three times higher in the technological higher education institutions than in the universities
There are clear policy choices for government in responding to this Report. The Report acknowledges the significantly higher institutional resources that are required to support disadvantaged students and those with lower leaving cert points attainment, the great majority of whom attend institutions in the technological sector. Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO THEA said
“We believe that a funding mechanism needs to be found to ensure that those institutions that reach out as part of their everyday activity to reduce disadvantage are adequately funded to do so. Institutions with high deprivation indices should receive significant additional funding that should be targeted at extra resources that are required to support vulnerable students through to completion.”
The Report also indicates that medicine, as a field of study, attracts the most affluent students from the wealthiest parts of the country. Medicine also offers one of the highest earning career opportunities. Yet medical students are the most subsidised students in the country by the taxpayer.
“We would urge Government to use the evidence in this newly published Report, in particular the deprivation index scores, to ensure that public monies are targeted where they are most needed”
For further information, please contact:
Róisín O’Connell, Head of Communications, THEA; (087) 9193333; firstname.lastname@example.org