The leafy campus of NUIM is Open. The 27th and 28th of November are NUIM’s annual open days, where secondary school students and their teachers visit the campus, get a feel for subjects and degrees, and experience what student life might be like. However, the openness of Open Days does not necessarily translate into student action. Figures released by the Irish Times show, on a school by school basis, the numbers and percentages of students who continue to third level education, and the third level institutions they attend. The 2009 figures make interesting reading, not least for the geographies they contain. Here at NUIM, we’ve mapped the intake of students in 2009, and some very interesting spatial patterns emerge. NUIM’s feeder schools are mostly in Kildare and neighbouring counties: Dublin, Offaly, Westmeath and Meath. There are also relatively high percentages from Monaghan, Louth and Wexford. Clare is the only county from the Republic not represented at NUIM in the 2009 intake.
We’ve also mapped the intake in 2009 from Dublin schools. At this scale, there are some expected and less expected results. The main feeder schools for NUIM are in nearby Dublin 15, but also in North Dublin and, to a less extent South Dublin. Dublin 2 is perhaps unexpected, but not when you take the Institute of Education, located on Dublin 2’s Leeson Street, into consideration.
Like all good maps, though, these pose more questions than they answer. The maps suggest that proximity matters in the choice of university, as well as transport links such as the direct trains between Maynooth and Wexford. We can also speculate that students are increasingly commuters: running a car may well be more economical than student accommodation, particularly in an era of limited grants and even more limited loans. But if this is the case, why are some counties underrepresented at NUIM? How do gender and class affect these patterns? Is the NUIM experience different to, or replicating, that of other third level institutions? And, if these patterns persist, what might this say about the social mix of our third level institutions, and the relationship between those institutions, feeder schools and the communities where they are located.