Eurostudent Survey II: Irish report on the Social and Living Conditions of Higher Education Students 2003/2004

January 30, 2006

Authors: Merike Darmody , Emer Smyth , Philip J O'Connell , James Williams , Bernadette Ryan

This report has set out to explore the experiences of students in higher education institutions in Ireland. The majority of higher education students are found to be broadly ‘satisfied’ with their material well-being, accommodation and work-load. However, the experiences of full-time and part-time students vary notably. Part-time students are more likely to be ‘satisfied’ with their material situation compared to full-time students, which could be explained by higher incomes among the former. While full-time students were more ‘satisfied’ with their accommodation when living with parents/relatives, part-time students were most ‘satisfied’ living in their own households. The less time taken up by attending lectures and study the more likely the students were to report that they were ‘satisfied’ with their workload. Full-time students were more ‘satisfied’ with their workload compared to the part-time students.The study also demonstrated a link between material well-being and term-time work. Nineteen per cent of full-time students and 8 per cent of part-time students consider their material situation to be bad. The study clearly showed that students whose parents had lower levels of education were more likely to take up term-time work, some of them also working long hours. The length of employment influenced satisfaction with workload; in particular, the levels of dissatisfaction among students rose when the extent of term-time work exceeded 16 hours per week. This study also demonstrates that access to higher education and succeeding in it continues to be a problem for certain students. Despite the need to address the issue of educational inequality in higher education highlighted in various official reports, young people from professional and managerial backgrounds continue to be over-represented among those attending higher education institutions, particularly in degree programmes (Fitzpatrick Associates and O’Connell, 2005). Equality of access and participation in higher education continues to be an issue and many students experience certain barriers in entering and succeeding in higher education (Lynch, 1999).

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