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More college graduates go straight into jobs as fewer opt for postgraduate studies

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More college graduates are going straight into employment amid a buoyant jobs market and fewer are opting to complete postgraduate studies, new figures show.

A graduate outcomes survey for the class of 2022 by the Higher Education Authority shows employment rates are at the highest since records were first compiled five years ago. The vast majority (83 per cent) of college graduates were in employment within nine months of leaving college, up from 2020 (76 per cent) and 2021 (82 per cent).

Employment rates were highest for education graduates (93 per cent) and lowest for arts graduates (66 per cent).

The proportion of graduates pursuing further study has decreased to 10 per cent for the class of 2022, down from 12 per cent for the class of 2021.

Unemployment rates remain low, with 4 per cent of graduates unemployed nine months after graduation. When broken down by area of study, jobless rates are highest in ICT (8 per cent) and arts & humanities (7 per cent).

The data shows technological universities generally have higher employment rates than traditional universities as more of their graduates tend to go directly into employment rather than pursue further study.

In all between 82–87 per cent of undergraduate graduates from technological universities are in employment nine months after graduation, while the figure is 64-85 per cent for universities.

Higher Education Authority chief executive Dr Alan Wall said the findings show that employment rates for graduates continue to increase, showing the value of a higher education qualification. “This report adds to the graduate-tracking evidence base and provides all our stakeholders with up-to-date and detailed data on early career outcomes for recent graduates.”

The report also shows that two-thirds (66 per cent) of graduates consider their course “very relevant” or “relevant” to their job.

A similar proportion of graduates (64 per cent) said they would be very likely or likely to do the same course again.

The most common fields of study were business, administration and law (26 per cent), health and welfare (16 per cent), followed by arts and humanities (12 per cent).

Separately, other Higher Education Authority data shows the number of international students attending Irish universities climbed to a record high of more than 35,000 in the last academic year, or almost one in seven students. Higher education authorities say the year-on-year increase of just over 10 per cent is a sign that overseas students are returning to Irish universities in comparable numbers to before the pandemic.

International students made up 14 per cent of the student population in 2022/23, up from 12 per cent in 2021/22.

The US remains the most common country of origin for internationally domiciled students, followed by India and China.

New entrants to higher education increased by almost 1 per cent as more than 1,000 additional students registered for higher education courses using the Leaving Cert as their entry basis in 2022/2023 compared to the previous year.

There were a total of 256,785 students for all modes of study in 2022/23, down 2 per cent from in 2021/22.

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