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Third Level Education (Industrial Report) - Ireland - October 2011

The third-level education sector in Ireland has been undergoing a period of intense fluctuation over the past five years, due to the introduction of “top-up” fees in NI, the continuing effects of the recession, and the associated financial and socio-economic effects of the economic downturn since that time. Further uncertainty exists for 2012 onwards, with fees and funding a major concern in RoI, and a predicted large-scale growth in applications to NI institutions from home students.

With finances a significant concern for students across Ireland (combined with cuts in funding and available places at institutions), many students are likely to be priced out of the education market. This is in contrast to the objectives of both NI and RoI governments, who continue to take steps to widen participation for disadvantaged students. In this competitive market environment, institutions must compete to prove their worth, demonstrating that a third-level education will provide students with a return on investment, and a real value in the employment marketplace.

Some questions answered in the report include:

  • What fees and funding issues are students and institutions facing, particularly in light of new governments in both the UK and RoI? – Do students struggle to find funding? How will new fees affect NI and RoI university numbers?
  • What are the key factors affecting entry to Irish institutions? – Are universities becoming more selective? What impact does the diminishing job market have on consumers applying to third level education?
  • How is access to third-level education being made available to underrepresented groups? – What initiatives are being taken to boost third level education among those from less privileged backgrounds?
  • Have certain subjects been affected by the drive for career-specific qualifications? – What are the key areas for students?
  • How are Irish third-level institutions performing compared to other education providers? – Are there key strengths and weaknesses in provision?

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Table of contents

  1. Issues in the Market

      • Key themes in the report
        • Definition
          • Data sources
            • Abbreviations
            • Future Opportunities

              • Developing skills for working life
                • Building on reputation
                  • Internationalism
                  • Market in Brief

                    • 2012 will be a time of uncertainty
                      • Applications rise whilst number of places decline
                        • Changes in popularity of courses
                        • Market Background

                          • Key points
                            • Comparative Framework – NI and RoI
                              • Figure 1: Third level education levels and qualifications, NI and RoI, 2011
                            • RoI
                              • FE and HE system share levels framework
                                • Public universities in RoI
                                  • Private higher education colleges in RoI
                                    • Institutes of technology in RoI
                                      • NI
                                        • Colleges of further and higher education
                                          • Universities
                                          • Internal Market Environment

                                            • Key points
                                              • NI fees higher than RoI, but lowest in UK
                                                • Hikes from 2012 onwards
                                                  • New GB fees help boost domestic NI applicants
                                                    • RoI fees still significantly lower than all UK
                                                      • What will the new RoI Government bring?
                                                        • NI funding through loans
                                                          • Limited funding sources in RoI
                                                            • Credit union membership increases among university aged students
                                                              • RoI provision for grants
                                                                • RoI higher education applications increase
                                                                  • Figure 2: Total CAO applications by year, 2007-11
                                                                • Arts and social sciences popular with RoI applicants
                                                                  • Figure 3: Total CAO applications across selected subjects by year, 2007-11
                                                                • NI higher education applications increase by a third
                                                                  • Figure 4: Total applications to UCAS from NI residents, 2005-10
                                                                • Many denied places in UK higher education
                                                                  • Figure 5: Top five subject areas by UCAS application, 2006 and 2010
                                                                • Choosing courses to match skills gap
                                                                  • Skills shortfall
                                                                    • How do less career-specific qualifications fare?
                                                                      • Grade inflation
                                                                        • Degree discrimination
                                                                          • Soft skills
                                                                          • Broader Market Environment

                                                                            • Key points
                                                                              • Unemployment drives a move towards education
                                                                                • Figure 6: unemployment rate for June-August by gender, NI, 2008-11
                                                                                • Figure 7: Seasonally adjusted standardised unemployment rates for the month of October, RoI, 2006-11
                                                                              • Emigration affecting young consumers the most
                                                                                • Figure 8: Emigration from RoI, 2006-11
                                                                              • NI facing high migration also
                                                                                • Widening participation programmes in NI
                                                                                  • 2008 RoI National Plan fails to meet 2010 targets
                                                                                    • Mid-term review in RoI for 2010
                                                                                    • Strengths and Weaknesses

                                                                                      • Strengths
                                                                                        • Weaknesses
                                                                                        • Market Size and Segmentation

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • RoI intake greatly boosted by recession
                                                                                              • Figure 9: Number of new entrants to full-time undergraduate courses in higher education in RoI, 2005-10
                                                                                            • Total student numbers also demonstrate recessionary impact
                                                                                              • Figure 10: Number of students enrolled in higher education in RoI, by mode of study, 2008-10
                                                                                            • IoTs a popular alternative to universities
                                                                                              • Figure 11: Percentage of new entrants to full-time undergraduate higher education in RoI, by type of institution, 2010
                                                                                            • Fees the greater variable in NI new entrants
                                                                                              • Figure 12: Number of new entrants to full-time undergraduate courses in higher education in NI, 2005-10
                                                                                            • Full-time courses most popular
                                                                                              • Figure 13: Number of students enrolled in Higher Education in NI, by mode of study, 2005-10
                                                                                            • Universities dominate NI also
                                                                                              • Figure 14: Percentage of All full-time enrolments in higher education in NI, by institution, 2009-10
                                                                                            • Predominantly local students at NI universities
                                                                                              • Figure 15: Number of students enrolled in Higher Education in NI, by domicile, 2009-10
                                                                                            • Universities rankings fall for 2011
                                                                                              • Figure 16: University Ranking League Tables, NI and RoI, 2010-12
                                                                                            • RoI top for efficiency
                                                                                            • Providers

                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                • NI providers
                                                                                                  • Queen’s University Belfast (QUB)
                                                                                                    • University of Ulster (UU)
                                                                                                      • Colleges Northern Ireland (CNI)
                                                                                                        • RoI providers
                                                                                                          • Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
                                                                                                            • University College Dublin (UCD)
                                                                                                              • University College Cork (UCC)
                                                                                                                • National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)
                                                                                                                  • National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM)
                                                                                                                    • Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)
                                                                                                                      • Cork Institute of Technology (CIT)
                                                                                                                        • Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)
                                                                                                                          • Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT)
                                                                                                                            • Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT)
                                                                                                                              • Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT)
                                                                                                                              • Appendix

                                                                                                                                  • Figure 17: Economic outlook, RoI and NI, 2009-11
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 18: Consumer Sentiment/Confidence Index, UK and RoI, September 2008-11

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                                                                                                                              Third Level Education (Industrial Report) - Ireland - October 2011

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