A new report from the Higher Education Authority launched today shows that farmers’ children are three times more likely to go to college than the average Leaving Certificate student.

The report puts estimated participation rates of farmers’ children higher than that of even the children of professionals such as lawyers. The figures are contained in a consultation paper published today aimed at improving third-level access.

Students outside of Dublin are also more likely to participate in Higher Education the report found. Leitrim, Galway and Mayo were found to have the highest progression rates, at 60%. However, Laois and Donegal have the lowest at 41%.

In Dublin, the report puts a spotlight on a growing social divide when it comes to going on to third-level.

In contrast to the 99% of 18-20 year-olds from affluent Dublin 6 at college, only 15% of school-leavers living in Dublin 17, which includes areas of significant social disadvantage, participate in higher education.

HEA chief executive Tom Boland said: “an uncomfortable and sobering fact is that deep reservoirs of educational disadvantage, mirroring in large part economic disadvantage, are part of the education story”. He said the data calls for radical solutions.