There has been an 8% drop over the past four years in numbers entering Information and Communications Technology courses at third level, according to the Higher Education Authority.

Data compiled by the HEA and published today shows that in 2013, 3,103 students began third level courses in ICT, compared to just 2,855 in 2017.

The figures also show that students who study ICT are more likely to be from lower socio-economic backgrounds compared to the average.

53% of third level new entrant ICT students are in receipt of a state SUSI grant compared to 44% of new entrants generally.

The sector continues to be heavily male dominated with 85% of all new entrants to ICT courses across the universities and the Institutes of Technology being male.

Previously published figures show that employment outcomes for ICT graduates compare very favourably with other sectors.

In 2016, nine months after graduating 80% of ICT university undergraduates were working, and 84% of them were earning more than €25,000.

This compares to 59% for all undergraduates.

Also 9% of ICT graduates were earning in excess of €45,000 nine months after graduating, compared to an average across all disciplines of 3%.