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Just over one in three in 'Cities' had a third level degree or higher in 2016

Nearly three in ten people (28.2%) who had ceased their full-time education in 2016 had a third level degree or higher. The highest proportion of people with at least a third level degree was in ‘Cities’ at 35.3%, followed by ‘Satellite urban towns’ at 31.7%. The lowest proportion was 18.3% in ‘Highly rural/remote areas’, (see Figure 7.1 and Table 7.1).

‘Upper secondary’ was the highest level of education for 27.5% of those who had ceased full-time education in 2016. This rate varied across the country, with the highest rate of 30.7% in ‘Independent urban towns’ and the lowest of 24.6% in ‘Cities’.

The proportion of people in ‘Highly rural/remote areas’ with lower secondary education as their highest level of education dropped from 43.2% in 2011 to 37.7% in 2016, a drop of 5.5 percentage points.

The largest percentage point increase in a level of education was in ‘Cities’ for those with postgraduate attainment, which rose from 11.8% to 14.3% between 2011 and 2016.

% with at least third level degree
Satellite urban towns31.7
Independent urban towns22
Rural areas with high urban influence27.8
Rural areas with moderate urban influence21.5
Highly rural/remote areas18.3
7.1 Population usually resident and present, who have ceased full-time education by sex, highest level education attained and 6-way area classification, 2016

Women more likely to have a third level qualification

Women are more likely to be educated to at least degree level, with 30.8% having a third level degree or postgraduate qualification compared to 25.5% of men. This gap is strongest in ‘Rural areas with a moderate urban influence’, where 26.6% of women are educated to least degree level compared to 16.5% of men.

Conversely, men are more likely to be educated to at most lower secondary level, with 29.8% of men in this group compared to 24.9% of women. ‘Rural areas with a moderate urban influence’ has the largest gap, with 27.3% of women educated to a most lower secondary level compared to 39.0% of men.

PostgraduateThird level degreeThird level non-degreeUpper secondaryLower seecondaryNo formal/PrimaryNot stated
Cities - 201614.321.1924.612.311.17.7
Cities - 201111.819.48.726.714.613.95
Satellite urban towns - 2016 10.920.812.329.612.88.55.1
Satellite urban towns - 20118.818.711.631.614.910.43.9
Independent urban towns - 20166.715.310.630.715.813.97
Independent urban towns - 20115.813.91031.417.416.25.3
Rural areas with high urban influence - 20169.118.712.827.915.511.44.6
Rural areas with high urban influence - 20117.116.312.129.317.713.93.7
Rural areas with moderate urban influence - 20166.215.312.228.217.815.34.9
Rural areas with moderate urban influence - 20114.712.911.128.72018.63.9
Highly rural/remote areas - 20165.31310.827.318.119.65.9
Highly rural/remote areas - 20114.111.19.727.219.823.44.6

Students and grants

In the 2016 Census, there were 120,106 residents aged 19 to 22 years who were defined as students and for whom a valid Protected Identifier Key (PIK) was assigned, (see Appendix 1: Data Sources).

The largest number of students was in ‘Cities’ (38,696), while the smallest number was 11,090 from ‘Highly rural/remote areas’.

More than half of all people aged 19-22 were students in all the area types, except for ‘Independent urban towns’ where the proportion was 47.6%.

Note that these numbers include students present at their home address and students temporarily away at college on Census night.

Proportion of students among age group
Satellite urban towns54.7
Independent urban towns47.6
Rural areas with high urban influence64.8
Rural areas with moderate urban influence61.7
Highly rural/remote areas58.9
7.2 Student numbers and proportion among the age group 12-22, by area type, 2016

Over one in two students in ‘highly rural/remote areas’ applied for a SUSI grant

There were 49,243 students aged 19-22 who applied for a Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant, see Table 7.2, or 41.0% of all students. The proportion of students applying for a grant varied widely across the country with the highest proportion of 54.9% in ‘Highly rural/remote areas’, followed by 49.4% in ‘Independent urban towns’.

The lowest proportions of students applying for a grant was 33.2% in ‘Cities’ and 37.6% in ‘Satellite urban towns’.

Proportion of students 19-22 that applied (%)
Satellite urban towns37.6
Independent urban towns49.4
Rural areas with high urban influence38.6
Rural areas with moderate urban influence47.7
Highly rural/remote areas54.9
7.3 SUSI application and allocation rate where the person aged 19-22 identified as a student in the Census, academic year 2015/2016

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