Retention initiatives for ICT based courses
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C. Connolly, E. Murphy (2005) Retention initiatives for ICT based courses, Proceedings Frontiers in Education 35th Annual Conference, Indianopolis, IN, 2005, pp. S2C-10. doi: 10.1109/FIE.2005.1612215
Unlike our European neighbours, Ireland failed to develop its educational system in the immediate postwar years and it was only in 1967 that second-level education was provided free to all citizens. Since 1970, the educational system has been greatly expanded at second and third level to bring it into line with the EU norm. Two thirds of the generation who are retiring from the labour force today left school at 14 or less, and less than 10% of them had the benefit of third-level education. By contrast, 80% of the school leaving cohort last year completed second-level education and over 50% continued on to third-level education. However, how many of these students will complete their studies at their third level institute? An examination of completion rates among students on IT based courses in Dundalk Institute of Technology shows that a large proportion of students who enrol do not finish within the normal duration for their program, and a significant number do not complete their course at all. This is typical of universities and colleges throughout Ireland and globally. Retention rates in 1st year computing courses at Dundalk IT are typically 50–60% for Software Development streams and 60–80% for Application and Support programs . The importance of student success in higher education is incontestable and improving student retention and achievement has, a particularly high priority for the majority of third level institutes of higher education. The issue of retention of students on computing courses in Ireland is particularly manifest in third level educational institutes, where a combination of falling numbers of applicants and reduction in entry points standards, have combined to significantly change the profile of incoming students. High retention rates in computing courses are worrying, especially for Ireland, who was declared once as leader in software development. The probable decline in students studying computing and graduating successfully is alarming for IT companies who have invested substantially in the Irish economy.