Over 20% drop out of university science and technology courses

According to a report in The Irish Times 39% of students who began a science and technology degree at Dublin City University, Ireland’s leading ‘high-tech’ university, dropped out after the first year. At the same time, the non-completion rate for these courses was 26%. The national average dropout rate in this field of study is reported to be over 20%.

These figures raise concerns about the quality of teaching of mathematics and science in secondary education as many fear that students are ill-equipped to continue their education in technology and science at university level. In attempt to encourage students to study science, the threshold for admission to science and technology courses has dropped significantly, though it seems that this strategy has not had the desired outcomes.

The report is indicative of similar problems across Europe. Although governments recognise the importance of science and technology for the economy and competitiveness, the number of graduates in these disciplines is falling, for several reasons including the quality of education in secondary schools. With regard to IT studies and professions, other factors include the image of the IT professional which is not appealing to young people and particularly to women. There is also scepticism about the career opportunities offered in IT which, to a certain extent, is attributed to the misleading view that these opportunities are constrained to the IT industry and telecommunications.