Reaching Out: Why Students Leave

This briefing paper reports on a research project established by the National Forum in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland, which aimed to inform our understanding of why some students do not progress to the completion of their programmes of study in higher education and to determine how best to support students in their transitions into and through higher education. The study examined, through surveys and interviews, the motivations and experiences of 331 students who did not complete their programmes of study in higher education. The briefing paper adds to the growing evidence base about the challenges that students face in their transitions into and through higher education in Ireland.

Student Non-Completion on ICT Programmes

This report is based on findings from a National Forum-funded research project on student non-completion on ICT programmes led by a team based at the University of Limerick.

The Paper summarises international literature on student non-completion with a focus on students of ICT ; it outlines proven initiatives and pedagogic practices designed to tackle ICT student non-completion and it presents the results of exploratory case study research on ICT non-completion at the University of Limerick. It also includes further considerations arising specifically from the institutional case study as well as those arising more generally from the question of non-completion in the Irish context.

Why Students Leave: Findings from Qualitative Research into Student Non-Completion in Higher Education in Ireland

This project reports on a systematic survey of existing qualitative data on student non-completion gathered by 16 Irish higher education institutions, including Universities, Institutes of Technology and HECA Colleges. The findings of the current qualitative study identified five core themes which are significant in terms of student non-completion: course, personal, financial, medical/health and family. Of these five, course was the strongest influencing factor. Importantly the study calls for a more positive interpretation of non-completion as part of the wider context of students’ career and programme plans. It also suggests that developing systematic and standardised institutional approaches to qualitative data gathering on students who leave will help enhance institutional and policy responses for the future. This study also helps to inform the forthcoming HEA Report 2015 A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education Institutions 2012/13 2013/14, a quantitative analysis.