A Loyalist newspaper has ran a front cover story of the "stark religious divide at university". The article informs of the demographic make up of new entrants into third level education in the North in the last academic year. Protestants make up 14,195 (29.5%) of those entering university, compared to 21,765 (45.3%) Catholics. This would leave 12,115 (25.2%) Other (no religion/no disclosed/overseas students etc.). Leaving aside the others the breakdown is 61% Catholic, 39% Protestant.
According to UUP spokesperson Sandra Overend the reason for this "educational inequality" is because Sinn Féin were not tackling the issue. DUP spokesman Peter Weir went one better and blamed a "chill factor" for Protestants attending university because of the behaviour of Catholics.
Presumably this bad behaviour includes wearing GAA gear, use of the native Irish language and celebrating St. Partick's Day.
There is educational under achievement particularly among Protestant boys. This is a damning indictment of the failure of Unionist politicians to show leadership. They would much rather concentrate on bonfires, parades, flags and the past.
Let's be clear educational under achievement has very little to do with the demographic make up of the North's third level colleges. Some suggest that there is a "protestant brain drain" whereby more protestants go to university in Britain and stay there to work once they graduate. This may be a factor but the major reason for the "relious divide" of new entrants into the North's universities is demographics.
The School's Census which is published every year shows a trend towards a 60:40 Catholic Protestant split in our schools. It is therefore not really surprising that entrants into universities show the same ratio.