The number of students dropping out of Irish computer science courses before beginning their second year has fallen for the first time in several years.
This is welcome news, particularly as in recent years, Computer Science courses have had some of the worst progression rates of all courses. This year* their progression rate has risen from 80% to 84% for honours degree (level 8)** programmes. For university courses the figure is 88pc, compared with 80pc at institutes of technology.
The problem of high dropout rates in Computer Science courses is not limited to Ireland, and has been a big problem in many, if not most countries.
Overall, there has been a small decrease in drop-out rates, although more than 6,200 (nearly one in seven) first year students in 2013/14 did not continue into second year. Interestingly and encouragingly, students from farming backgrounds, and female students, are least likely to drop out before second year.
The source of these figures is a newly published report from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education, 2013/14 to 2014/15. Figures in the report show that 85% of first years in 2013/14 progressed to second year, up from 84% in the previous year.
HEA chief executive officer Dr Graham Love attributed the improved progression rates in computer science to additional funding for retention initiatives such as maths enabling courses, peer mentoring and tutorials.
*The report detailed here is for students who began their course in 2013/2014.
**For international readers, “honours degree, level 8” courses are ‘traditional’ degree courses, typically 4 year BSc courses. See here for more.