Students from fee-paying secondary schools are 4 times more likely to get a place in Trinity

Analysis of feeder school data illustrates Trinity’s place in the Irish educational divide


The most recent data on “feeder” schools to third-level institutions has illustrated Trinity’s place within the Irish educational divide.

Students who attend one of the country’s 51 fee-paying schools are more than four times more likely to attend Trinity than students at schools that do not charge fees. Furthermore, fee-paying students are nearly twice as likely (65%) to go to any of Ireland’s seven universities than their non fee-paying counterparts (34%).

In all, 2,344 students came to Trinity through the Central Applications Office (CAO) this year. 631 of that number, about 28.5%, were privately educated. The figures do not include “grind schools” such as the Institute of Education, which sent 126 students to Trinity in 2015 – the most recent year for which statistics are available. Only 7.5% of last year’s Leaving Cert class attended a fee-paying school.

Using raw data provided by the Irish Times, Trinity News calculates that a student is more than four times more likely to attend Trinity if they have attended one of Ireland’s 51 fee-paying schools. These schools sent, on average, 13 students to Trinity from a class of 77, which amounts to 17%.  In contrast, the state’s 628 non fee-paying schools send an average of 4 students from Leaving Certificate classes of the same size.

The figures allow for a degree of insight into Ireland’s educational divide. Of the 26 schools which sent over 50% of their sixth year students to either Trinity or University College Dublin (UCD), the highest-ranked universities in the country, 22 are fee-paying. Half of Trinity’s incoming first years come from just 68 schools.

In addition, there are more first year students in Trinity from private schools in Dublin (563 pupils) than there are from all schools in the provinces of Munster, Connaught and Ulster (Donegal, Monaghan & Cavan) combined (395 pupils).

The class divide persists when only including schools in Dublin. 20.9% of students in Dublin fee-paying schools went on to study in Trinity, compared to 6.9% from the county’s 132 non fee-paying schools.

The school which sent the most students to Trinity was St. Andrew’s College in Blackrock, with 45. Gonzaga College sent 39, nearly half its Leaving Cert class, and sent 90% of its Leaving Cert class to either Trinity or UCD. 216 schools sent nobody to Trinity.

Commenting on the release of the figures, President of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Kieran McNulty, pointed to recently published recommendations from TCDSU regarding improvements in educational access: “funding and more of an attitude change from the government and schools is needed to get students into education.”

The data, collated from the State Examinations Commission and third level institutions themselves, was published by national newspapers last week. The figures are broken down on a school-by-school basis, by which third-level institutions this year’s Leaving Certificate students went on to attend, and the rates at which they did so.

Additional reporting by Niamh Lynch and Conn de Barra.