New data on third level entrants shows a strong regional disparity when it comes to getting a college grant.

A study by the Higher Education Authority has found that while 67% of Donegal students receive some level of State assistance, just 35% of Dublin students do. 

These figures are based on an analysis of all those who began an undergraduate course in 2013. 

The HEA said the regional disparity between Donegal and Dublin is explained by higher participation rates in Donegal as well as lower average incomes.

The figures show that overall 46% of students got some form of State assistance.

In 42% of cases this meant registration fees were paid and some level of maintenance was awarded. 

The figures also show that as well as a regional disparity there is also a sectoral one.

The Institutes of Technology have the highest proportion of students receiving grants - 56% of all their first years - while universities had the lowest level of students receiving grants at 36%.

71% of new entrants at Letterkenny Institute of Technology got grants, compared to just 24% at Trinity College. 

The Minister for Education has said the disparity in who gets education grants between urban and rural areas is a pattern that has been there for some time.

Jan O'Sullivan said generally there has been a higher proportion in Donegal mainly because incomes are lower.

But she said there has been a patterns of disparity in some parts of Dublin and Co Dublin.

She said she wanted to see equality of access for everyone to higher education.