Trends in Non-Progression Rates: 2015-16 to 2019-20

This section shows the non-progression rates in Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) by NFQ and Field of Study since 2015/16.

Users can view the trend in non-progression rates by NFQ Level and by Field of study for entrants in the years 2015/16 to 2019/20. By default, the table shows the non-progression rates for all HEIs. A slow downward trend can be observed in the overall non-progression rates, from 14% (2015/16 entrants) to 12% (2018/19 entrants) to 9% (2019/20 Entrants), although rates remain high for some Fields of Study, particularly at 6 and 7. The user can further investigate the association between NFQ Level, Field of Study and student characteristics in the student characteristics section. Please remember that if you select a combination of variables from the drop-down menus, the total row will show the overall non-progression rate for that particular combination of variables. So, by default, you will see an overall downward trend from 14% in 2015/16 to 9% in 2019/20. If however, the user selects, say, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Levels 6 and 7, the user will see a drop from 31% for Level 6 and 7 combined to 26% in 2018/19 (You will also be still be able to see the subtotals for Levels 6 and 7 separately. Note also that Level 6 and 7 programmes are only offered to full-time undergraduates in the Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities).

By selecting an individual HEI (or a combination of HEIs) from the HEI dropdown, the user can view the trends in non-progression rates by an individual or combination of HEIs. For example, if you select, say, Trinity College Dublin from the HEI filter, you can see the trend in non-progression rates for that institution over the five years (from 8% in 2015/16 to 5% in 2019/20).

The user can filter by HEI using the drop-down menu. The NFQ Level and/or Field of Study can be filtered by right clicking on the variable in the chart itself.

The user should be cautious about drawing firm conclusions from combinations of variables that result in low numbers of entrants. For example, a 50% non-progression rate for a given combination of variables may have resulted from five students out of ten not progressing. Therefore, the tool-tip will enable the user to see if the cohort of new entrants is less than 25. The tool-tip can be viewed by hovering over the chart.

Focus on 2019/20 Entrants

The 2019/20 new entrants were the first group of new entrants to be affected by the covid-19 pandemic. The student census date (01 March 2020) took place before the covid-19 related restrictions on movement and college attendance were introduced. While the rate of non-progression has been steadily improving since 2010/11, there have been more marked improvements in the rates between 2019/20 and the previous years.

The non-progression rates for all institutions have improved from 2018/19 to 2019/20. Letterkenny IT has seen the biggest overall improvement in Non-progression Rates, a drop from 19% in 2018/19 to 12% in 2019/20.

NFQ/Field of Study
Overall, the non-progression rates have improved for all fields of study. The biggest improvement is in the Services Field of Study, from a non-progression rate of 22% (2018/19) to 16% in 2019/20. There have been improvements of between 1% and 5% across all Fields of Study at level 8. There is a slightly more mixed picture at level 6 and 7. There are improvements across most fields of study, although there are increases in the rate of non-progression in Arts and Humanities and ICT at Level 6, from 17% to 23% and 30% to 32% respectively from 2018/19 to 2019/20. Natural Sciences at level 7 has improved by 9%, from 21% (2018/19) to 12% in 2019/20.

The non-progression rate of Irish students has improved, falling from 12% in 2018/19 to 9% in 2019/20, in line with the overall non-progression rate. By contrast, the non-progression rate of non-Irish domiciled students has risen slightly, from 11% (2018/19) to 13% in 2019/20. At levels 6, the rate of non-progression for Irish domiciled students has improved, from 22% to 16% (level 6) and from 24% to 18% (Level 7). By contrast, the rate of Non-progression of non-Irish Domiciled students has risen from 26% to 31% (Level 6) and from 13% to 22% (Level 7). Note that 95% of the student population are Irish domiciled.

Socio-economic Grouping (DIS Category)

The non-progression rate has improved for all socio-economic groups at all NFQ Levels. Overall, the non-progression rate for disadvantaged students improved by 5% from, 17% in 2018/19 to 12% in 2019/20, with a 12% improvement at level 6 (from 28% in 2018/20 to 16% in 2019/20).


Males have a higher non-progression rate than females, particularly at L6 and L7. In 2018/19 the non-progression rates were 26 and 27% respectively for males, 18% each for females. The gap was narrower at Level 8, at 8% for females and 11% for males. This pattern has continued in the 2019/20 cohort, with overall rates for males at 11% but at 7% for females.

In some fields of study (Agriculture and Natural Sciences), the overall non-progression rates are equal for males and females (2019/20 Entrants). In most fields of study however, the rate for females is lower than that of males (even for the more traditionally “male oriented” STEM3 subjects, albeit with lower numbers of female entrants). Nevertheless, there appears to be a convergence in the rates of non-progression between males and females.

The following chart has an additional level of user interactivity. The user can select the column variable from the drop down menu above the chart and view the trend in non-progression rates of entrants from 2015/16 to 2019/20.

Go to next section: Logistic Regression Analysis

ISCED is the International Standard Classification of Education – Field of Study
Further information on classifications here.

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