That narrative around third level access. February 7, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
An Irish Times analysis on the proportion of students on grants across the higher and further education sector last year contains some revealing findings. It shows a striking class divide, with students from better-off families far more likely to occupy places at the country’s top universities.
For example, only a minority of students at UCD (27 per cent) and Trinity College Dublin (28 per cent) are in receipt of grants. Students from less well-off backgrounds, by contrast, are much more likely to be studying at institutes of technology.
The pattern is even more extreme among institutes of technology in regional areas. While Letterkenny IT has the highest concentration of grant-holders (74 per cent), it is followed by Athlone IT (73 per cent) and IT Carlow (71 per cent).
These figures appear to show that well-off families still have a firm grip on university places, despite the rapid expansion of higher education and the introduction of “free fees” two decades ago.
At the same time there’s a part of me that dislikes the implicit hierarchy at work here – that the ‘universities’ are somehow a different category (and a superior one at that) entirely from ITs. And that serves a narrative which seeks to suggest that ‘free fees’ have failed when, one could, as has been done on this site many times in the past, point to the totality of third level access and suggest that in that context free fees (for all that the approach is flawed in terms of costs of education etc) have seen a broadening of access.