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A guide for learners in Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland has a reputation for education excellence and is home to two global Universities – Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. Every year both universities welcome students from all over the world to study on their campuses.

Location and demographics

Northern Ireland sits above the Republic of Ireland on the northeast of the island of Ireland. It is also part of the United Kingdom, economically and politically. People in Northern Ireland enjoy similar benefits to those in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The country has a population of 1.9 million people. As it’s quite a small country, you’re always less than two hours from the coast.

Culture and history

Northern Irish history has Irish, British, and religious influence. The country began in 1921 when the island of Ireland was partitioned into two separately governed regions. Over history, there have been long periods of upheaval, but for almost 25 years, the country has experienced peace. Most people in Northern Ireland identify as either Roman Catholic or Protestant, and the culture is shaped significantly around religious beliefs and traditions. However, locals are warm and friendly, and the country is welcoming to both tourists and students alike. There is a strong sense of national identity, yet it is shared with others in the British Isles. Northern Ireland sometimes competes in international sports games with Ireland, Great Britain, or as a separate entity.

Queen’s University Belfast

One of the most well-known universities in Northern Ireland is Russell Group Queen’s University Belfast. It has a reputation for high-quality teaching and ground-breaking research, especially in fields such as medicine, engineering and social sciences. Queen’s University Belfast has a diverse student population, and if you choose to study there, you’ll be right at home with students from over 90 countries.

Ulster University

Ulster University is ranked in the top 25 per cent of UK universities for its health, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy research. It’s also known for its expertise in peace and conflict studies, renewable energy and biomedical sciences. Uniquely, it has multiple campuses across Northern Ireland, from Belfast to Coleraine and Derry-Londonderry.

An affordable cost of living

Northern Ireland has the lowest student cost of living in the UK, with an average monthly living cost (without rent) in Belfast of £682 per person.For accommodation, you can expect to pay around £400 per month for a room in a shared house (excluding bills), and even less should you live outside of a city centre. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost about £20 per person, with takeaway meals and other options costing a fraction of that price. Travel is easy and affordable, you can easily visit the Republic of Ireland, the UK and Europe. There are regular flights, trains and sea ferry crossings so you can explore exciting destinations such as London, Dublin, Paris, Berlin and beyond.