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Chapter 4: Looking Deeper Part 1 - Consideration of withdrawal

Comparison with HEA data

The HEA produces annual figures on non-progression rates for first year undergraduate new entrants in Ireland. Importantly, the results only related to progression within the same institution; this means that transfers to other institutions were not included, and, therefore, a student will be considered to have not progressed if they transfer to another institution.

Photograph of attendees at the Practitioners Forum 2022

Thus, this section will only compare first year undergraduate new entrants (from HEA figures) to first year undergraduate respondents (from data).

In 2019-2020, the non-progression rate reported by the HEA was 9%. In the data, more than one in three respondents had seriously considered withdrawing (35.0%). This suggests that although 9% of students did not progress with their studies, a much larger proportion of respondents had seriously considered withdrawing. This chapter outlined some of the reasons or potential barriers to progression.

By field of study, the HEA noted that the highest non-progression rate was observed amongst Services students (16%). In this report, amongst first year undergraduate respondents, Arts and humanities respondents (37.8%) and Services respondents (37.6%) were most likely to have considered withdrawing. The HEA reports that Education students had the lowest non-progression rate at 3%. Similarly, Education respondents were least likely to have seriously considered withdrawing (30.4%).

With regards to gender differences, the HEA found that male students had a higher non-progression rate (11%) than female students (7%). However, in the data, the reverse was observed, whereby female respondents (37.2%) indicated that they had considered withdrawing from their programme at a higher rate than male respondents (32.5%). It is possible that female students were more likely to consider withdrawing but were less likely to actually withdraw.

In the HEA data, it was found that mature entrants had higher non-progression rates (13%) than non-mature entrants (9%). Within data, the reverse was observed, whereby respondents aged 23 years and under (35.8%) indicated that they had considered withdrawing from their programme at a higher rate than respondents aged 24 years and over (32.3%).