Issuu on Google+

Dublin City University Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile テ》ha Cliath

From a Local Initiative to a National Programme: A research project on 21 years of the Access Service at DCU

YEARS OF

21DCU

ACCESS SERVICE

www.dcu.ie


From a Local Initiative to a National Programme: A research project on 21 years of the Access Service at DCU

Abstract When Dublin City University (DCU) was granted university status in 1989, it immediately began to look at how it might assist students from the local Ballymun community to study and attain a third-level qualification. In collaboration with a number of interested groups in the Ballymun area, the University set up an initiative called BITE (Ballymun Initiative for Third Level Education) in 1990. The main objective of BITE was to increase participation of students from the local Ballymun comprehensive school in third-level education (Boldt, 2000). Following the success of this pilot, the Access programme at DCU was established and work began with 16 other schools in North Dublin. In early 2000, in collaboration with other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) the Access scheme began to go nationwide. The scheme then went through a number of incarnations before emerging as the current scheme, the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) which is operated through the Central Applications Office (CAO). The scheme is now a national initiative with all applications processed through the CAO. This research looks at the outcomes of the Access programme at DCU over 21 years using comparative figures from the undergraduate (UG) population.

-1-


Introduction Ballymun is located beside DCU in north Dublin. It is an area that has a high level of social deprivation, with many low-income families and little or no progression to thirdlevel education. In 1989, the Governing Body of DCU decided to put in place an initiative to address the low numbers entering third-level from the area. The Ballymun Initiative for Third Level Education (BITE) ran as a pilot in DCU from 1990-1995, taking in a total of 35 students.

BITE focused on preparing students for third-level, helping them with their subject choice in third year and providing financial scholarships and other supports. „The BITE programme has been successful in changing attitudes, beliefs and expectations regarding third-level education among students attending the Ballymun schools.‟ (Morgan, 1995 p38). In 1995, the governments “White Paper: Charting our Education Future” stated that each University was to develop initiatives to promote participation among students from lower socio-economic groups. Based on the success of the BITE initiative, it was decided to extend DCU Access supports to 16 schools in the North Dublin region. This saw the numbers of Access students entering DCU begin to increase significantly (see Diagram 1).

A full-time Access Officer was appointed at DCU in 1996 and the North Dublin Access Programme (NDA) was launched to target a wider audience in the north city. This included a network of „designated disadvantaged‟ schools at both first- and second-levels situated within the areas of Coolock/Darndale, Finglas/Cabra and Ballymun

The NDA Programme permitted entry to the University on fewer points than was required through the CAO system as well as offering students a range of financial, social, emotional and academic supports at postentry.

By 2003 the University began to allocate to 10% of course places each year to students from disadvantaged areas under the Direct Entry Scheme.

By the end of the 1990s a number of other third level institutions in Ireland had set up Access programmes. This followed the Universities Act 1997, which stated that

-2-


„access to the university and to university education by economically or socially disadvantaged peopleâ€&#x; would place priority of equality policy.

The Access Service at DCU expanded in 2001 and became known as the North Dublin Access Direct Entry Scheme. DCU began to collaborate with Access programmes in six other third-level institutions, which included Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, NUI Maynooth, Dublin Institute of Technology, University of Limerick and University College Cork. The six institutions developed a selection system to facilitate students from disadvantaged schools linked to these colleges to apply to any one of them under the Access Initiative, using one common application form. The collaborative nature of this scheme had a huge impact on addressing equality issues and improving equity of access. Irish University Access programmes were now targeting individual disadvantage more effectively. The DCU Access Service received 270 applications in 2003 via the Common Application Form for places on DCU undergraduate courses.

-3-


Nordubco The North Dublin Coalition was launched in DCU in November 2006. Dublin Corporation and Fingal County Council joined DCU and the three Area Partnerships in Finglas/Cabra, Ballymun, and Coolock to provide a forum for strategic thinking on the development of North Dublin and the promotion of that development. Located at DCU, the NorDubCo Office has organised a number of research projects and conferences, addressing issues of regional development, education, transport, the environment and industrial training.

DCU was now heavily involved with the North Dublin Community. The University was represented on the Education and Employment Working Group of the Dublin Employment Pact by a member of the Access Service. DCU was also represented on the Ballymun Initiative for Third Level Education and the Board of the Ballymun Partnership and former DCU President Dr Daniel Oâ€&#x;Hare chaired Ballymun Regeneration Ltd.

DCU includes a commitment to social inclusion as one of its core values and today the focus on Access remains at the forefront of the DCU Strategic Plan 2010-2012, Making a Difference. The aim of the University is to target greater access and participation for non-traditional undergraduate recruitment including Access (5%), Disability (5%) and Mature (10%) students. (http://www.dcu.ie/strategy/pdf/strategicplan_final_web.pdf)

-4-


Post-Entry Supports: Orientation Programme: It is widely recognised that students entering third-level education, especially those from non-traditional backgrounds, benefit from support at the transition stage. The DCU Access post-entry supports begin by including all Access Scholars in a residential orientation programme on campus for three-and-a-half days at the beginning of September each year. It is compulsory for students who have been accepted to DCU through the HEAR process or the Access DCU Supports Scheme to attend this orientation. When discussing Tinto‟s (1987) model for understanding the transition into higher education, Shobrook (2003) informs us that successful transition depends on academic and social integration in to the institution, „A number of factors contribute to this process including prior experience, matching expectations, with experience; social factors within a new institution and an ability to understand ones own academic performance.‟ (p3). These factors are reflected in the values that underpin the work of DCU‟s Access Service and form the basis of the Access orientation programme. A Teaching Advisory Group (TAG) was set up to plan and coordinate the orientation programme. This group comprises Chairpersons, academic staff and post-graduate students who meet prior to the annual orientation to ensure best practice in Teaching and Learning in the delivery of the programme. The involvement and contribution of this group of experts has proven invaluable over the years as the orientation programme has grown from strength to strength. During the Access orientation, students are divided broadly into "streams" according to their subject group: Humanities, Science, Computers & Engineering and Business. They participate in many activities such as Sports, Study and Presentation Skills, Sample Lectures and Social Events. Current Access Students act as leaders for the duration of the orientation. These leaders not only assist in the co-ordination of the orientation days, but begin to build mentoring relationships with the incoming first years. The goal at orientation is to ensure that students feel a part of their university, make friends and acquire new learning skills appropriate for University. The programme

-5-


aims to prepare students socially and academically for undergraduate life while familiarising them with the campus, academic staff, current students, their peers and particularly Access Service staff. „A key ingredient of what determines the student experience is the result of the interaction between the individual and the institution.‟ (Percy 2001 SEDA Paper p97). Developing a good relationship with staff is pivotal in enabling students to feel a part of their university. At DCU, this is an invaluable time for Post-Entry Project Officers to identify the needs of individual students. Students also spend a portion of the week preparing a short presentation on a topic related to their degree and present this to the entire group and staff at the end of the week. There is a panel of judges and first, second and third prizes are awarded. This provides students with an opportunity to get involved in group work and presentation skills, preparing them for their academic careers. The Access Service at DCU has garnered from annual evaluations of this programme that making friends is a key factor that helps students settle in to university. Norrie‟s (2003) research highlighted the value of making friends at induction stage: „meeting new friends changed the whole week for the better.‟ (p234). The Access service at DCU recognises the value of making friends as an important factor in the transition to third level and our orientation programme aims to give students that opportunity. As well as group work and team sports, the week comprises a wide range of outings, such as a trip to the cinema, a quiz night, playing Frisbee in the park and a social evening. „Overall I thought the Access week was a lot of help for me in familiarising myself with the campus and getting a chance to make friends. I also thought the tutorials and presentations and activities were all useful and I enjoyed the week overall.‟ (Orientation participant 2010).

„I found the Access Summer Programme to be of great value to my introduction to college, and DCU Life. There was not one aspect that I found hindered my experience. The Student Leaders instilled a great sense of value and friendship; the work of the Access Co-ordinators gave the feeling that the support was there for us and available at all times and getting to know other students who were going through university under the same conditions made it extremely helpful in making friends and having a feeling of comfort heading towards Orientation and Lectures. An amazing and very helpful experience. SO, Thanks. =)‟ (Orientation participant 2010).

-6-


The value of making friends is also reflected in a survey carried out by the Access Service with the graduates of 2010, which showed that 79.5% of students found it to be an „extremely useful‟ benefit of the orientation programme. The Access Service believes strongly in involving scholars‟ parents. A closing ceremony and information session are held on the final day of orientation which all parents are invited to attend. It is at this event that parents are provided with the opportunity to see what students have been doing for the week at DCU and also to approach Access staff with any questions. Parents are offered a guided campus tour, they meet current Access students and gain an insight into the third- level journey incoming students are about to embark on.

Financial: DCU is unique in that all Access Scholars are awarded a top-up scholarship, administered by the Post-Entry Project Officers. These scholarships are funded by The DCU Educational Trust, a registered charity that works towards building philanthropic relationships with friends, corporations, alumni, foundations and community groups to raise funding for Access scholarships. As will be shown later in this report, the financial scholarship plays a key role in aiding the success of students on the programme. Post-Entry Project Officers meet each first-year student at the beginning of their first semester. A review of the student‟s financial circumstances takes place at the meeting and it is often discovered that students require extra financial support. These students are then invited to apply for further financial supports based on their individual circumstances. The financial support provided by the DCU Access Service is very much tailored to the individual needs of the student students in order to minimise disadvantage for all students. In some cases students are provided with photocopying cards, book tokens, books, the loan of a laptop or paid work opportunities.

-7-


Academic: In the 2010 HEA report, “A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education�, Attainment of Leaving Certificate maths is cited as one of the strongest indicators of progression at third level. The Access Service views this as a reality and prioritises and supports those scholars with low Maths attainment in the Leaving Certificate. In the first instance, scholars are encouraged to avail of the DCU Maths Learning Centre. The Maths Learning Centre provides free extra informal support in a welcoming environment to all students taking mathematics as part of their programme. Students can avail of one-to-one maths tuition and a tutor is also available if students wish to bring along any work and ask questions. Extra Maths workshops are also provided for all Access Scholars where Maths is a part of their programme of study. Post-Entry Project Officers have a facility whereby they can monitor the exam results of all Access scholars and meetings are arranged with those who require extra support in order to prepare for re-sit exams. Academic supports are also provided for any other module that an Access scholar is struggling with. Once again, these supports are tailored to the needs of the student.

-8-


One-One support: Induction programmes are aimed at combating low progression rates and student withdrawal. The Access Service at DCU believes that the induction process should continue throughout first year. This is carried out in the first instance at one-one meetings with all first year scholars. Post-Entry Project Officers are assigned to all years, with a designated first-year Project Officer who meets scholars on a one-toone basis early in the first semester. Student who may need additional supports are identified and referred to appropriate services within the University, with continuous backup and support from the Access Service. Further meetings are then arranged as required for the duration of their degree. Students can discuss issues arising and appropriate supports are identified and administered on an ongoing basis where possible. „Transition models enable us to identify areas where students may be at risk of alienation,‟ (Purnell et al SEDA paper 2008 p19). Cook and Lowe (2003) concur with this and believe that „induction should be seen as a process instead of as an event and should be designed to promote peer group and staff-student support systems for those students who are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.‟ (p75).

Student Learning Agreements: A student learning agreement (SLA) is emailed to students in advance of one-one meetings. Students bring the completed learning agreement to their meeting to be reviewed and agreed on. Post-Entry Project Officers and students then discuss in detail and agree on a tailored package of supports for the duration of their studies. The supports are outlined by project officers and students have an opportunity to provide input and request clarification. Initially, the SLA aims to ensure that students have registered for their degree correctly, chosen modules that are aligned with their own aims and abilities and that they are aware of all the services on campus. The interests, career aspirations and strengths of the individual students are discussed in order to gauge the reasons for their course choice.

-9-


Students may also disclose any areas of concern in relation to their academic ability. This enables Project Officers to anticipate and plan academic supports for semester one. Students agree to engage with the service through one-to-one meetings, email or the DCU Moodle online learning resource and participate in the Access Shadowing Days. The mode of contact that students use will depend on their needs at particular times. However, students are encouraged to log in to Moodle once a week to avail of any new information that has been sourced. The academic progress of all Access students will be tracked throughout their third-level career to enable Project Officers to respond quickly when extra supports are needed. Anecdotal evidence shows that students respond positively to this pro-active approach at times of distress or worry. Finally, students are offered an opportunity to disclose any information that they think may be relevant or have an impact on their studies. It is often at this point that those students who require extra supports, whether it be financial, academic, learning or medical support are identified. Referrals are then made to other support services within the university where necessary. Students complete and sign the SLA that encompasses all the elements outlined above. The project officer signs the SLA at the end of the meeting. It is confidential and filed with the studentâ€&#x;s file.

- 10 -


Peer Mentoring: Another essential part of the Access orientation is the Peer-Mentoring programme. Access students are from backgrounds where there is little or no tradition of further education. There is often no parental guidance or advice available about third-level and students can be unaware of what to expect when they begin university. They are entering an unfamiliar environment and not all third-level language is yet known to them. Peer mentoring focuses on the „„hidden curriculum of how to get things done. (Topping 1995, p55). The purpose of the Peer-Mentoring scheme is to engage first-year students with fellow students who have already negotiated their way through first year. Incoming first-year scholars will have met their assigned Peer Mentors at orientation. Peer Mentors receive training and ongoing support and advice from the Access Office. The role of the Mentor is to provide a positive role model and an informal guide to first-year students. They highlight areas where students might be going wrong and provide practical information/tips to students such as how to prioritise work and allocate time. Mentors help students negotiate all aspects of University life, including what happens outside of the classroom. The programme aims to provide students with a positive role model, encouragement, academic support and someone they can approach for assistance in either an organised or informal way As Peer Mentoring is voluntary, it provides current second-year Access Scholars with the opportunity to develop skills and build on their CV. The experience gained from extracurricular activity during third-level is being recognised more and more by employers. It is often the factor that sets a graduate apart from other applicants in an interview situation. Volunteering as a Peer Mentor enables our students to acquire and develop much sought-after attributes in today‟s workplace. In a recent Irish Times article, employers said „you need to set yourself apart‟, further stating that they look for people with good communication skills as well as team workers who like working with others (Irish Times, 14th April 2011). DCU also formally recognises the learning and skills acquired by volunteering with an accredited module in extracurricular activities – the Uaneen Module (DCU 2010). The Uaneen Module can be a contributing five-credit elective or an optional additional five-credit module. Peer-Mentoring experience is a valuable addition to portfolio submissions for students who have undertaken this module. This provides

- 11 -


an incentive to prospective mentors. Mentors also receive a certificate of recognition from the Access Service. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that mentors gain great personal satisfaction from the mentoring process, as well as improved personal skills such as guidance, judgement and organisational skills. One student interviewed said that the availability of a Mentor in first year helped him „stay in college‟. All students reported that they would have been „apprehensive about getting in touch‟ if they had not met their mentor at summer school which highlighted the value of implementing the Peer Mentoring at orientation.

- 12 -


Volunteering: The Access Service strongly promotes an ethos of volunteering.

As discussed

earlier, the Peer Mentoring scheme provides volunteering opportunities for secondyear students. First-year students are invited to volunteer for student shadowing days. This is where students from local second-level schools come to campus for a full day and shadow a current first-year student in order to get a taste of life at a thirdlevel institution. Once again, students can include these volunteering activities in their portfolios should they wish to undertake the Uaneen module as mentioned above. The Access Service works with a number of schools and faculties on the campus to offer a range of pre-entry supports to linked secondary schools. These include maths and science tuition programmes, campus tours and events. Access students play a key role in volunteering and getting involved in these events. It gives them an opportunity to get involved and give back but also to develop valuable social and interpersonal skills.

DCU Access students have a long tradition of volunteering and getting involved. This year (2011), a final year Economics, Politics and Law student was awarded the Presidentâ€&#x;s Award for Community Engaged Teaching & Learning. Other students have won international volunteer travel awards to Nigeria, India and Mexico in the last two years.

Access Scholars are also invited to attend fundraising events with the Educational Trust. At these events, students act as representatives of the Access Service. They not only acquire the opportunity to network with high-profile individuals from the business world, but also develop their communication and presentation skills at such events.

- 13 -


Methodology

This section provides an account of the aims and objectives of the study. It outlines the steps taken to ensure that every student who came through the Access Programme in DCU from 1990 – 2011 was accounted for. As the study was seeking to make contact with former students who had graduated almost twenty years ago, the research team took this into account when deciding on the data-collection method. It was important that it had a personal approach and enabled a two-way conversation to take place.

Research Aims and Questions The aims of the research were to: I.

Profile the employment outcomes of DCU Access Graduates from 1990-2008.

II.

Profile the further education experiences of DCU Access graduates from 1990-2008.

III.

Investigate the reasons why students withdrew from their course.

IV.

Collate strong statistical data on the performance of Access students relative to the DCU student population in a number of areas: by qualification, faculty, withdrawal rate and reason given.

Preparation for the study As the study was aiming to contact a large number of former Access students stretching back over 20 years, it was very important to ensure that initial records were accurate and complete prior to making contact. As various methods of recordkeeping had been used in the early stages, a considerable amount of time was allocated to verifying the completeness and accuracy of these records. Meetings were held with the management of BITE and former staff members to draw on their knowledge and experience.

For some years now, DCU has tagged all Access students with a unique code, which can only be accessed by designated staff members. Extensive cross-checking took place to ensure that the ITS (Information Technology System) was complete and free of errors.

- 14 -


Making contact Initial contact was made with all former Access students via a written letter from the current DCU Access Director. These letters were sent to their last-known previous address. The letter informed them that they would be receiving a telephone call inviting them to partake in a short telephone questionnaire.

The telephone calls were made by former Access postgraduate students and staff of the Access Service. Often family members and friends provided telephone contact details for former students who had moved.

A final effort was made to contact students whom we had been unable to contact by telephone by posting them the survey. A small number (five) responded to this method. Despite the large time gap from the earliest students in 1990 to those who attended in 2010, the research team made contact with a remarkable 64% of former students. Data Collection Method The decision was made to keep the questions very short and simple, as we were contacting students who had not engaged with the Access Service in a considerable period of time. This also influenced the decision to implement the questionnaire over the telephone rather than via post or email. This also allowed a two-way conversation to take place and we found that former students were very interested to hear how the Service has progressed and evolved.

- 15 -


Main Findings The Access programme began with an intake of just six students in 1990, culminating with 126 students entering in 2010. Diagram 1 below tracks the student intake over a twenty-year period. The rise in student population can be tracked with the expansion of the scheme in 1996 to 16 schools in North Dublin, and then in 2001 when the decision was taken to collaborate with other HEIs to expand the Access route into third-level.

Diagram 1: DCU Access Student Intake 1999-2010

160 140 2010

120

Intake

100 80 60 40 20

20 10

20 08

20 06

20 04

20 02

20 00

19 98

19 96

19 94

19 92

19 90

0

Year

One of the most commonly asked questions of Access programmes is: Do students who enter with reduced points lower the academic standards and perform as well as students coming through the mainstream route? We have endeavoured to answer this by looking at our internal statistics over an eight-year period. The period 20032010 was selected, as the number graduating from the Access programme prior to this was very small.

- 16 -


Diagram 2: Level of Qualification obtained Gen.UG DCU Access 2003-2010

2003-2010

First

14.1%

17.2%

Higher 2 Div.1

47.0%

39.5%

Higher 2 Div.2

28.4%

23.0%

Third

6.6%

4.7%

Pass

3.8%

9.2%

Other

0.2%

6.4%

(Pass/Dis)* * Other includes Oscail and some Level 8 post-graduate nursing courses which is are not relevant to this study.

The answer to the question posed above in regards to educational standards is that Access students enhance and improve the academic standards of DCU. Whilst the general study body obtained more 1st class degrees, when combined with Higher 2.1 (H2.1) then Access students are outperforming by 61.1% to 56.7%, which is significant. This also carries through into 2nd class, grade 2 (H2.2) where Access students achieved 5.4% more than the general student body. If one takes into account that over two-thirds of Access students enter DCU on reduced points then this is a phenomenal achievement.

Areas of study DCU is renowned for its business, technology and engineering based programmes. It is only in recent years that it has begun to expand its humanities programmes. There is a clear preference for Access students to study business, with 40% of students selecting this area in comparison to 27% of the general undergraduate population. The percentage of students studying humanities and social sciences plus computing and engineering is similar or identical, with a real drop in the percentage of Access students studying science and health.

- 17 -


Diagram 3: Breakdown of Students by Faculty Faculty

Access DCU UG 2008/09* 1990-2009

Business

40%

27%

Humanities & Social Sciences

28%

28%

Computing & Engineering

11%

9%

Science & Health

21%

36%

DCU offers students in most programmes a period of work placement which can be paid or unpaid. This can vary from three to twelve months depending on the area of study. A DCU business degree can be completed in either three or four years, with the four-year option includes a one-year work placement. A very interesting statistic arose when looking at the difference between the classes of degree for those that took the three-year option in comparison to the four-year one. Diagram 4: Comparison of Business Students taking 3 or 4 year Degree Option Access Students 1990-2010 average 1st

H2.1

H2.2

Third

Pass

Business with Intra 18%

62%

17%

1%

1%

Business without

53%

40%

5%

2%

0%

Intra DCU students 2009/2010

Business with

1st

H2.1

H2.2

Third

Pass

17%

71%

7%

5%

0%

4%

69%

22%

5%

0%

Intra Business without Intra

The findings were truly startling. An Access student who completes the three-year option has never obtained a first class honours degree. They were also less likely to obtain a H2.1 degree. On looking at the general study body, it was found that the statistics were almost replicated. This is a strong endorsement of maintaining the work-placement element in courses even in difficult economic times.

- 18 -


Gender Analysis As the diagram below shows, there is an almost 2:1 ratio of males to females entering and graduating from the Access Service, which is slightly higher than the national figures. According to the HEA, females accounted for 57.6% and males for 42.4 of entrants to undergraduate programmes in 2009/10. But females accounted for 60.9% of graduates in that year (HEA, Facts & Figures 09/10, p41). The higher number of females graduating compared to entering is replicated in both studies. This may be linked to the academic underachievement of males at secondary school which becomes more emphasised in disadvantaged areas. Diagram 5: Gender breakdown

Male

Female

On-entry

38%

62%

Graduation

36%

64%

Nationality DCU have had students from 34 nationalities enter the Access programme. To date, students from 15 nationalities have graduated, while the remainder are current students. This strongly reflects Irelandâ€&#x;s changing demographics.

Employment An area of interest to the researchers was whether students secured employment in the area they had studied on graduation. 83% of respondents stated that they were employed in an area directly related to their degree. Given the current high levels of unemployment, it was interesting to see that the unemployment rate was incredibly low at 4%. This supports previous research that the higher ones level of education, the lower your likelihood of finding yourself unemployed (Supporting Equity in Higher Education, 2003).

- 19 -


Diagram 6: Areas of Employment

Unemployed 4% Student 3% Not related to degree 8%

Related to degree 85%

This may be due to DCU degrees being very specific, with a strong emphasis on business, science and technology and on with defined career paths.

Diagram 7: Further Study One of the primary aims of Access is to give school-leavers who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education and who come from socio-economic groups in Irish society that are under-represented in third-level education1 the opportunities that otherwise may be denied to them. The diagram below shows that over 53% of Access graduates went on to further study. This would tie in with the earlier findings of the high number of such students achieving a first class or higher 2.1 degree. Not surprisingly, given the high numbers of Access students who studied business, the research found that significant numbers then when on to complete Level 9 qualifications and further studies in accountancy and other areas of finance.

1

HEA, National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2008-2013, p25

- 20 -


Unknown 1% No Study 43%

Further Study 53%

Full-Time Student 3%

Completion of Studies Given that a significant percentage of Access students enter on reduced points, it is important to monitor the attrition rate. As can be seen from the diagram below, just 7% of students failed to complete their third-level studies in DCU or another Higher Level Institution.

Diagram 8: Completion of Third Level Studies Status

Percentage

Current UG

35%

Graduates

46%

Studies Elsewhere

12%

Withdrawal

7%

As part of the study, students were asked the reason that they had withdrawn from their course. Almost 50% of students indicated it was because they had chosen the wrong course. This is in line with research across the campus for the general undergraduate population in 2009/10 (see diagram 10) where a similar percentage also indicated they were withdrawing. 19% of students indicated that they found the

- 21 -


course too difficult. Again, this may be linked to selecting the wrong course and may indicate the need for more intensive career-guidance when completing the CAO application form.

Diagram 9: Reason for Withdrawing Reason Given

Percentage

Wrong Course Choice

47%

Personal Reasons

11%

Course too Difficult

19%

Other

19%

Financial

4%

It is interesting to note that 14% of students from the general student body indicated that they were withdrawing for financial reasons compared to just 5% of Access students. This would suggest that the additional financial supports given to Access students does make a significant difference in alleviating the financial strain of attending third-level and thus reducing the attrition rate.

Diagram 10: DCU undergraduate withdrawal 2009/10

Personal Reasons 9%

Change of Mind 13%

Accomodation Change of Mind Deferred Lack of Friends

Deferred 22%

Disliked Programme Disliked University Employment Family Reasons Financial Reasons

Financial Reasons 14%

Medical Reasons Other University

Disliked Programme 20%

- 22 -

Personal Reasons Travel/Distance from home Withdraw


Conclusion DCU has been running a very successful Access programme for 21 years. With almost 1,300 students obtaining scholarships, and almost 600 graduates, it continues to grow from strength to strength. The success of its programme can be attributed to a number of factors, including a comprehensive range of Post-Entry supports:  Scholarships – Private funding only  Orientation  Networking opportunities offered by the Educational Trust  Student Learning Agreements  A designated first year Post-Entry Officer  One-one meetings  Tuition Workshops  Peer Mentoring  Subsidised Accommodation

Plus the support and commitment of staff at all levels in the University.

End.

References A Report of the Minister of Education and Science (2003) Supporting Equity in Higher Education. Dublin: Department of Education and Science. Boldt, S. (2000) BITE Ballymun Initiative for Third level Education – A Research Evaluation. Dublin: Marino Institute of Education.

Department of Education and Science (1995) Charting our Education Future: White Paper on Education, Dublin: Stationary Office. Mooney, O., Patterson, V., O‟Connor, M. & Chantler, A. (2010). A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education. Dublin: HEA.

http://www.hea.ie/files/files/file/statistics/2010/49841%20HEA%20Key%20Facts%20 Figures%200910.pdf

- 23 -


DCU ACCESS From a Local Initiative to a National Programme: