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What’s Unique about the Irish First Year Experience?

What’s Unique about the Irish First Year Experience?

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What’s Unique about the Irish First Year Experience?

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  1. What’s Unique about the Irish First Year Experience? Claire Laudet Trinity College Dublin Colleen Blaney University College Dublin 21st International Conference on the 1st Year Experience Dublin 24 June 2008

  2. Presentation Outline • Irish Jargon Buster • Higher Education Sector in Ireland • Educational philosophy • Student Demographics • Application Process to Irish Universities • The Irish First Year Experience • Costs of attending university • Funding of higher education in Ireland • Student Service Professionals in Ireland

  3. 1. Irish Jargon Buster • Leaving Certificate (LC) : end of secondary school state examinations • CAO: Central Applications Office • School leavers : students who have just finished high school • 3rd level: Higher Education up to undergraduate degree • 4th level: Higher Education, postgraduate level • HEIs : Higher Education Institutions • IT or IoT: Institutes of Technology • National University of Ireland (NUI): UCD, UCC, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth • UCD – University College Dublin • TCD – University of Dublin, Trinity College • University of Limerick • Dublin City University

  4. 2. What is the higher education sector like in Ireland? • 7 universities • 14 Institutes of Technologies • 6 Colleges of Education • 12 other colleges inc. some private Colleges • 40 HEIs in total- 125,000 students (2003) • Admission rate : in 2004, 55 % of school leavers go on to 3rd level ( 20% in 1980) • +105% from 1990/91 to 2003/04 • 1st generation college attendees still common: only 30% of parents of new entrants have 3rd level qualification (2004)

  5. National Policies • National Development Plan 2007-2013 on higher education: • Increased participation and improved access; • Encourage greater flexibility of course offerings to meet diverse student needs in a lifelong learning context; • Promote the quality of teaching and learning; • Significantly increase PhD numbers and research activity; • HEA Strategic Plan 2008-2010 does not explicitly mention student services

  6. Field of Studies Source: O’Connell P et al, 2006, p.24

  7. 3. The Irish universities and their philosophy • 2nd level schools focus on coaching for the Leaving Certificate, rather than teaching and learning of material • Gap exists; modularisation in 3rd level may widen it • Universities not proactively bridging gap • Degree track prescribed – little student choice in subjects (courses) they pick, particularly in 1st-2nd years • Major subject(s) started upon entry – no liberal arts approach • Learning skills training poorly resourced nor integrated into university teaching • No university has an official Orientation Office!

  8. 4. 1st Year Student demographics • 80% + Irish residents • Predominantly female (04: 58% in Univ., 86% in CoEs, 47 % in ITs) • Young: 13.5 % are 17, 43.5 are 18, 24% are 19, 10% are 20-22, 8% are 23-39, 1.5% over 40 • 89% full-time • 41% from Employers, Managers & Professions, 22% Manual & Agricultural Workers • Commuting: over half of students attending UCD (60%) and TCD (58%) live at home. • 21% of 1st years at TCD live in university accommodation. • Across Ireland, most students choose to study at a university close to home • Commuter campus feel – empty campuses on weekends • Student engagement generally good (???)

  9. Reason for choice of college Source: O’Connell P et al, 2006, p. 83

  10. Reason for choice of course Source: O’Connell P et al, 2006, p. 84

  11. Students apply to a Central Applications Office Number of LC points used to match supply and demand for 3rd level places. Student earn place based solely on points in the Leaving Certificate Students must do 6 subjects Mid-August: Students find out LC results Late August: allocation of places September/October: Start of academic year Final year 2nd level = pressures: studying for LC and completing CAO form Very short transitiontime 5. How students apply to Irish universities

  12. Impact of Admissions system on course choices: • “[…] the overwhelming influence of the CAO points system on student choices, with considerable parental and other pressure on many individuals to choose courses requiring the highest points they can achieve, rather than those best suited to their interests and needs.” Completion rates for students taking full-time programmes of study in Institutes of Technology, p. 40

  13. Students relationship with university pre-entry • Marketing is different in Ireland • Mostly based on Web sites, Open Days and College prospectus/literature • Role of personal connection with college (family, friends, guidance counsellor) not as important as used to be • Some advertising in the media • Personal relationship marketing non-existent • Generally no interview prior to entry for admission • Personal connections, written recommendations, legacy status DO NOT play role in admission

  14. 6. The Irish First Year experience • Retention rates • Nationally 83% retention (Rand corporation) • Universities 3-years: 84% retention (2003) • IoT Certs & dips: 70 % • IoTs Degrees: 87.4 % in 2004 • UCD 16-17 % non-completion • Issues for students • What they consult support services about • Concerns and expectations • Role of parents

  15. What do 1st year students consult services about - TCD Tutorial Service Survey (2007):

  16. Expectations Meeting new people (40%) Social life and parties (18%) Getting involved in clubs & societies (18%) Starting new course (9%) Passing exams (2%) Concerns Exams (25%) Difficulties making friends (12%) Workload (11%) Not liking course (7%) Concerns and expectations of TCD new entrants 2007 Source: Senior Tutor’s Office survey, TCD, Oct. 2007

  17. TCD Counselling Service Data Main Referral Reasons %

  18. The role of parents in the Irish first year experience • Increasingly, helicopter parents are hovering at Irish universities • Why? • Smaller families – children more precious • Middle class syndrome • Customer service mentality • Parents are used to having relationship with their child’s school and habits are hard to break • Programming for parents non-existent • UCD: Parents “day care” during Orientation and 2 parent nights (engineering and business)

  19. Retention Issues in Ireland 1 Reasons for withdrawal: • Wrong course choice • Lack of commitment • Academic difficulties • Financial worries • Difficulties settling into college (academic & social) • Concerns about career prospects • Under-preparedness in mathematics • Poor interaction with school career guidance services, • socio-economic background, • Little motivation to avail of student support • mismatched expectations

  20. Retention Issues in Ireland 2 • Difficulties with social integration or financial hardship not often mentioned (Rand corporation, 2007) • Only 13% of students who withdrew consulted career guidance in 2nd Level school (Baird, 2002) • 2/3 happy with their decision to leave; most continue in 3rd level (Baird, 2002)

  21. A Few Examples of First Year Support Initiatives in Ireland: UCD • Orientation @ UCD • Week before term • Orientation Guides (peer mentors) • President’s Welcome Reception • Academic Advisory Meetings • Computer System Induction • Campus, Library, Sports Hall and Language centre tours • Orientation kick-off BBQ • Entertainments • Parents’ Crèche

  22. Orientation @ TCD Week prior to term Includes campus, library & sports centre tours Info meeting on support services Course meetings SU organised social activities Clubs & societies fair Students’ Union led Peer Orientation Programme (POP) Peer Learning programmes (languages, programming, maths) New entrants web-site and orientation e-mail address Chemistry pre-entry course (one week) Regular e-mail shots from personal tutors A Few Examples of First Year Support Initiatives in Ireland: TCD

  23. A Few Examples of First Year Support Initiatives in Ireland: other institutions • NUI Galway Student Connect Mentoring Programme • University of Limerick: Mathematics and ICT Learning Centres • University College Cork: pre-entry Science programme, chemistry and physics (2 weeks); intensive revision programme (Easter break)

  24. Student engagement with services in 1st year In Trinity College • 4.8% % of first years went to Student Counselling • 72 % of Freshers went to see tutor in Fresher’s week. • 14 % did not go because they ‘had too much to do’, 7% did not think it was valuable thing to do • 40% of 1st years had a problem but did not go to tutor. 28% did not see how tutor could help, 12% did not think of going, only 3% went to another service instead. In UCD • Link found between different academic disciplines and student engagement

  25. 7. Costs of attending university in Ireland • No tuition fee for full-time EU students (unless repeat) • Registration Charge – €825 in 07-08 ($1300) • Everything else is charged: repeating courses or exams, part-time study, doing additional degree, graduate programmes • Annual cost of living is €10,000+ ($15,500) per academic year • Grant system for financially needy students: 36% in ITs, 32% in CoE, 26% in universities • Full grant awarded €3,400 ($ 5,300) + “top up” if on benefit (€6,700).

  26. State expenditure per student (2006) €10 272 State funding: Recurrent Grants Capital Funding SFI & PRTLI research funding Student Service Charge (Registration, exams and student services):€ 825 Some Private Funding Additional strategic funding for pilot projects (3 years), some for Student Services An illustration: The TCD Case Income 39% State Grants 28% Student Fees (mostly paid by State) 26% Research Funding 7 % Other income Expenditure 1,9 % go to Student Services inc. funding for SU, Clubs & Societies 8. Funding of Higher Education in Ireland

  27. 9. Student Services Professionals in Ireland • Traditional areas (careers, counselling, chaplaincy) have clearly defined professional requirements and career paths • New areas (disability, access, advising) are growing but are less well defined. Unclear professional requirements. • Many are part-time or temporary because of short-term pilot-type funding

  28. Scale is much smaller than in other countries Resources are much more limited New appreciation of 1st year experience Services tend to be reactive to student’s needs rather than proactive/preventative Growth of peer support, orientation guide model Many initiatives funded short-term – mainstreaming not always possible Conclusion: What does all this mean for student services staff?

  29. Bibliography • Baird, K. (2002). An inquiry into withdrawal from college – A study conducted at Trinity College Dublin. • Harrington, H., O’Donoghue, A., Gallagher, M. & Fitzmaurice, D. (2001). The first year experience: An insight into non-completion. Report compiled for Student Counselling Service, Trinity College Dublin. • HEA (2008), Higher Education Key facts and Figures 06/07, • Inter-University Retention Network (2004), Submission to OECD Review Team, IUA • Matthews, N. & Mulkeen, S. (2002). Staying the course? A study of student retention: UCD entrants 1999-2001. Dublin: University College Dublin. • Van Stolk C., Tiessen J. , Clift J. & Levitt R. (2007) Student Retention in Higher Education Courses International Comparison , Rand Corporation • O’Connell P., Clancy D., McCoy, S.,(2006), Who went to College in 2004?, A national survey of new entrants to higher education, HEA

  30. Questions & answers Claire Laudet – Trinity College Dublin claudet@tcd.ie Colleen Blaney – University College Dublin Colleen.blaney@ucd.ie