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Ministers Harris and Foley publish Education Indicators for 2021

5 January 2022 

Ministers Harris and Foley publish Education Indicators for Ireland 2021 report

The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister for Education Norma Foley today announced the publication of Education Indicators for Ireland 2021 – which presents a comprehensive set of educational indicators for the education system in Ireland.

The indicators in this report cover all levels of education starting with early years and working through school education, further and higher education and through to lifelong learning. In doing so the report provides an overview of the work of both the Department of Education and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

This updated report provides data up to and including the school/academic year 2020-2021 (where possible) as well as a look back at how our education system has progressed over the five years 2016-2020.

Among the topics covered in the report are school types, leaving certificate pathways, special education, access to higher education, graduate numbers and further education and training enrolments. This is the only report where this data is presented together in one single report; in doing so the report presents a snapshot of the whole education system at a single point in time while also charting our progress over the past five years.

Minister Harris said: "This report offers an important opportunity to assess what we have achieved, and also what more needs to be done to create a world class education landscape in Ireland.

“I am pleased to note that the numbers on apprenticeships are increasing, which ties in with our goal of registering 10,000 new apprentices annually by 2025. In fact, as of last week, we achieved over 8,000 registrations so far this year, so the message is clearly getting out there that there are multiple educational pathways available.

“I am also thrilled to see that an increasing number of students are progressing to post-graduate research studies. Research plays a pivotal role in society, and we need researchers to develop ideas that can create the sort of inclusive, equitable and sustainable Ireland we want to see.

"One of my key priorities is removing barriers to third level education. This report confirms transition rates rose to 66.1% in 2020, up from 62.1% in 2019. Among DEIS schools the rate was 46.7%, which is an improvement but leaves us with much more work to do throughout 2022."

Minister Foley said: “I welcome the publication of today’s report which presents us with a snapshot of the whole education system and is an invaluable tool in formulating future policy.

“I think it is heartening to see that a number of key indicators are continuing to trend in a positive direction, particularly the pupil-teacher ratio and the retention rates for DEIS students. We will continue to work to further address these key areas and ensure that there is progress right across the education sector.”

Some notable findings from the report include: 

Further and Higher Education

  • The number of persons on apprenticeships is rising strongly, up from 10,445 in 2016 to 19,630 in 2020.
  • The number of NFQ level 8 (undergraduate) entry routes rose to 883 in 2020, up from 843 in 2019.
  • The total number of post-graduate researchers has risen from 9,802 in 2016 to 11,199 in 2020, of which females accounted for 5,983 (PhD and Research Masters, full and part-time).

Primary and Post-primary education

  • The retention rate to the leaving certificate in DEIS schools stood at 84.8% for the 2014 entry cohort, up from 83.8% on the previous year, while the gap in retention between DEIS and non-DEIS schools fell to 8.6%, down from 9.3% in 2019.
  • The total number of teachers has risen by over 7,000 since 2016, from 61,942 to 69,343. The pupil-teacher ratio has fallen from 15.7 to 14.5 since 2016 while in post-primary it has fallen from 13.4 to 12.3.
  • The number of special needs pupils in mainstream primary have risen substantially in recent years, from 4,836 in 2016 to 7,510 in 2020, while the number of special needs assistants (SNAs) has increased from 12,634 in 2016 to 17,713 in 2020.
  • The percentage of schools offering at least two foreign languages is increasing, as is the percentage taking a foreign language other than French in the leaving certificate.

A link to the full report is available here: Click Here