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First year tertiary students with no school qualifications, 1994-2000

First year students between 1994 and 2000 constituted 39 to 49 percent of all tertiary students under 25 years without any school qualifications. In 1994, about 2,800, or 42 percent were enrolled in their first year of tertiary study. This level remained reasonably stable, reaching 48 percent in 2000. This proportion of students in their first year of study indicates that, initially at least, short-term tertiary courses are a more likely choice for those students without any school qualifications. This is reinforced by the fact that certificate level courses accounted for 70 percent of enrolments annually during this period. Another factor may be that some students enrol but do not complete longer courses of study.

Focusing on first year tertiary students under the age of 19 years may allow some limited insight into the proportion of school leavers with no qualifications who embark on tertiary study in their first or second year after having left school. In 1994, there were 1,300 first year tertiary students with no school qualifications, while during 1993 around 9,000 students left school without gaining any qualifications. Certainly, it cannot be concluded that 14 percent of 1993 school leavers enrolled in tertiary education during 1994, as not all of the first year tertiary students in 1994 had left school during 1993. Some students may have left school up to two or three years previously. However, an examination of this proportion through the period 1994 to 2000, may provide some sense of the flow of school leavers with no qualifications into tertiary courses in their initial years out of school.

As a proportion of school leavers with no qualifications, the number of following year first year tertiary students under 19 years with no qualifications generally remained in the 14 to 17 percent range. By 2000, first year tertiary students had increased to 1,500, which could roughly be seen as 16 percent of the 9,300 school leavers under 19 years who left school with no qualifications in 1999.

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