Northern Ireland is a fantastic choice for international students and for organisations seeking to develop education partnerships.

The UK has a global reputation for education, characterised by excellence and high quality. It is widely acknowledged that a UK education opens doors wherever you go in the world and according to the British Council, a UK education has been the preferred choice of some of the most successful people in the world with one in four world leaders having studied in the UK.

Northern Ireland is part of the UK and its education system has historically out performed the rest of the UK in GCSE and A Level results (University entrance exams). The region provides a comprehensive offer both for students seeking a high quality education and for overseas Governments, Ministries and education providers who are looking for a partner region to support the development of their own education provision or to forge research partnerships.

For overseas students seeking a truly unique and high quality education, we offer a range of English Language Teaching, Boarding Schools and University options. Within this portfolio students can come to learn English, enjoy a Summer School or Study Abroad experience, study for GCSEs and A Levels which offer a route to our Universities and progress to a full undergraduate or postgraduate programme of study.

For overseas Governments, Ministries and Education providers, our Universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges have extensive experience in transnational education. For example, our Universities operate a number of branch campuses overseas, undertake high quality joint research activity, and deliver jointly supervised PhDs. Our TVET Colleges are active across the world in British Council and European Union programmes and are working overseas to help develop curricula, enhance college leadership and management capability and deliver quality assurance processes.

Why choose Northern Ireland for education?

There are several reasons to choose Northern Ireland for education including:

  • A world-class internationally-focused education system considered one of the best in Europe
  • A new 2-year post-study work visa offers international students the opportunity to build successful careers in the UK
  • A safe, affordable location with an excellent quality of life, modern student housing and a welcome that is second to none
  • Northern Ireland is part of the UK- it is widely acknowledged a UK education opens doors wherever you go in the world
  • A rich variety of scenery, activities, cultural attractions and leisure opportunities appeal to international students
  • English-speaking, accessible European location
  • Strong links with industry, ensuring our courses contribute to employability and deliver what industry needs
  • Our Universities are world-leading across a range of research disciplines ensuring their taught programmes include the latest thinking

Study UK - Discover what Belfast has to offer international students

Options for study

Higher education

Two world-ranked universities - Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University – have around 45,000 students enrolled, with students from over 100 countries represented including China, Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the US.

There is something for everyone, with both universities offering a broad range of courses across the arts, cyber security, humanities, social sciences, medicine, business, computing, film & journalism, health & life sciences, engineering and physical sciences.

Queen's University Belfast

Ulster University 

Teacher training colleges

Northern Ireland’s teacher training colleges offer courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels for teacher education. In recent years, the colleges have expanded their undergraduate portfolio to offer a wider range of professionally-related academic programmes. Both colleges have relationships with a wide range of partner institutions globally.

Stranmillis University College

St Mary's University College

Technical Vocational Education and Training

Northern Ireland has an extensive Technical Vocational Education and Training sector; with over 40 campuses across the region, developing a comprehensive portfolio of academic and vocational skills. These include A-Levels, foundation degrees, apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships.

Northern Ireland colleges are active across the world, working with partner organisations, delivering transnational education programmes including teacher training, curricula development, quality assurance, leadership development and project based learning. Colleges NI can also deliver a range of bespoke programmes, such as short courses/summer school programmes.

Belfast Metropolitan College

Northern Regional College

North West Regional College

Southern Regional College

South West Regional College

South Eastern Regional College

Boarding schools

Northern Ireland offers an excellent choice of boarding schools, each with its own unique heritage and all sharing a rich history of academic and extra-curricular excellence. Whether single-gender or co-ed, city centre or rural, each school nurtures the individual within a supportive and welcoming community environment.

Our boarding schools provide an excellent and affordable launchpad for further study at our universities.

Explore Boarding Northern Ireland to find out more

English language teaching

Northern Ireland is home to seven British Council accredited English language schools. The language schools offer a range of flexible courses in English language for professional or everyday use.

The schools provide a variety of off-the-shelf to bespoke vocational English language courses. Links with the business and local communities are also strong, enabling students to continue their immersion in the English language through work placements or home stays with approved local families.

Key facts

Key facts for international education in Northern Ireland:

  • Belfast was named more affordable than every other major student city in the UK (Mercer, 2017)
  • Northern Ireland has attractive post-study work options
  • Students from over 100 countries, including China, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the US study in NI
  • Between 2016/17 and 2017/18, the number of international students studying in NI increased by over 14%, over three times the level of growth for the UK as a whole (Higher Education Statistics Agency)
  • We offer a diverse range of courses, modes of attendance and progression routes into further and higher education
  • NI is connected to the UK and European destinations and internationally through our network of airports

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