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The benefits of going to a private college? List them again… August 29, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Education, Irish Politics.

There was a short piece in the SPB a while back on the ‘benefits of going to a private college’. It’s odd, in a few hundred words one would think that such benefits could be outlined clearly, but apparently not. After starting well, suggesting that the ‘points required for entry onto courses in private colleges are generally significantly lower than colleges in the state sector – as a result of the fees, rather than a reflection of the quality of the courses’ it sort of sputters to a halt.

For it continues as follows… ‘if finances allow, studying a private college may allow a student to simply get on with their studies without having to repeat or go over seas’. Of ‘for many students, if finances allow, private college can be the yellow-brick road to the career of choice in law or business or provide courses in areas such as game design, journalism, psychology or ICT’.

One can see the key phrase in all that. But aren’t these pretty nebulous in any case? Once ‘can’ or ‘may’ come into play generally there aren’t hugely concrete advantages.

And what of this? While discussing the lower entry requirements it suggests that:

‘However this does not mean that standards within the private colleges are not demanding. Students have to measure up, be well motivated and be able to cope with the demand of undergraduate programmes.’

Which differs from the state institutions in what way?

And raises the question, what are the benefits again? Other than ‘if finances allow’.


Some may remember this piece too…


1. Pangur ban - August 29, 2013

Why all the aqa offers on the Cao offers then?
A senior academic once said to me that
‘ there is no middle class child so stupid that sufficient funds will not get them through a business or media studies degree ‘


WorldbyStorm - August 29, 2013

It sometimes feels that way.


2. Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » The benefits of going to a private college? List them again … - August 29, 2013

[…] “There was a short piece in the SBP a while back on the ‘benefits of going to a private college’. It’s odd, in a few hundred words one would think that such benefits could be outlined clearly, but apparently not …” (more) […]


3. breakroomstories - August 29, 2013

A question I still struggle with today, does the price of a private school education really pay off!?


4. FergusD - August 30, 2013

“Of ‘for many students, if finances allow, private college can be the yellow-brick road to the career of choice in law or business or provide courses in areas such as game design, journalism, psychology or ICT’”

Bizarre collection of courses mentioned there. An entry into law and business I would expect from private education but game design??


5. Logan - September 2, 2013

Regarding private education, a programme on RTE 1 tonight (Monday) at 9.35 will give an insight into private education at second level.
It is a documentary about five young primary school leavers who are trying to gain a scholarship place in Belvedere College.

From the blurb on the RTE website:”What few people know, however, is that every year Belvedere through their Social Diversity Programme (SDP) offers almost 10% of its places to boys whose families, due to financial and social barriers, could never otherwise afford to attend the school.”.

Well,not so few will know it after making this documentary! Sounds like Belvedere are using the national broadcaster to make their Jesuit management seem all cuddly and socially aware.

Should be interesting, but probably a bit sick-making as well…


Logan - September 2, 2013

Well the documentary was pretty interesting, my God that housing estate in Darndale was bleak…as expected it seemed a bit like an advertisment for Belvedere, but it is hard to be churlish at the chance those kids are getting…


dmfod - September 2, 2013

God I just thought the premise was so sickening – like one of those apprentice programmes where one lucky, deserving member of the working class competes against others and wins a chance at individual success, or the horrible secret millionaire series where some condescending tightwad self made business man throws a few crumbs at some deserving cause and feels amazing about himself.

What’s worse is that the ‘prize’ here is escape from the public education system that every other working class kid has to go to. Typical RTE would be endorsing this lottery style chance at getting a decent education, rather than doing some actual investigative journalism into educational inequality and the effects of education cutbacks…


WorldbyStorm - September 3, 2013

+1 re the premise. dmfod, in fact +1 on all your comment.

I think we have to be very careful about this notion of a ‘decent education’ only being available in private schools (I know that wasn’t your intention).

I know Darndale etc and to be honest what sticks in my craw is the implicit idea there’s somehow no ‘good’ non fee paying schools around there,that somehow a kid has to be offered the largesse of a school that is keen to ensure its own continuity in a suddenly more hostile environment. That’s cobblers. There’s a broad range of schools that like everything, some are very good, some alright.

I’d also query the idea that this is a ‘chance’. Even if that is true on the individual level, and that’s questionable from my own experience of that path (having done my leaving cert twice, once in a community school and once in a fee-charging school as an inter-Jesuit schools experiment in the early 1980s on ‘repeats’), it doesn’t address those who that chance is never offered to, or – and much more importantly – whether the outcomes are actually all that great. Basic truth is that in multiple schools close to Darndale there are students doing extremely well and making their own ‘chances’ with none of the hoopla, patting on the back, or worse again the very idea and fact of a programme like this.


LeftAtTheCross - September 3, 2013

+100 to all of that. Started watching the programme but just couldn’t stick with it. Maybe I’m just getting cranky but I’m approaching zero tolerance for apologia for elitist institutions.


Michael Carley - September 3, 2013

From a unique data set identifying the school attended prior to university for a full cohort of UK university students; we examine the determinants of final degree classification. We exploit the detailed school-level information and focus on the influence of school characteristics; such as school type; on subsequent performance of students at university. We estimate that; on average; a male (female) graduate who attended an Independent school is 6.5 (5.4) percentage points less likely to obtain a ‘good’ degree than is a student who attended an LEA (that is; state-sector) school; ceteris paribus. We also find considerable variation around this average figure across different Independent schools. We find that; for males; the variation in the probability of attaining a ‘good’ degree according to the Independent school attended can largely be explained by the level of school fees.


Paper available here:


dmfod - September 3, 2013

A lot of the private school thing is more about getting the right class credentials though isn’t it? People from Dublin who went to private school seem to be convinced it makes a massive difference educationally and socially which was probably also the attitude of the people who made this documentary if they came from Dublin. So really they would see this as a chance for individuals to escape from the working class through being in a ‘better’ environment.

Thankfully it’s different down the country where the population is mostly just too spread out for this kind of class segregation. In fact, when I was growing up the only private school in the area had a bad educational reputation as being only for the cream, rich and thick.


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