Student Finance in Northern Ireland: Everything You Need to Know

Student Finance works differently than the student finance in Wales or the student finance in England. As university rules and regulations are a little bit different in Northern Ireland, their finance will obviously work in much the same way.

Anything student finance related can always be a little bit confusing and trying to muddle through it all on your own can be a daunting task and a pretty boring one too, let’s be honest. So we’ve made a bumper guide to all thing Northern Ireland, to help you understand how the student finance in Northern Ireland, works!

How much is tuition in Northern Ireland?

Well, the unfortunate thing for everyone to remember is that it will cost money. Student finance in Scotland is a little bit different, as Scottish Nationals and EU students receive free tuition, whereas international students have to pay tuition fees. The positive thing to remember, is that tuition fees in Northern Ireland are a little bit cheaper than anywhere else in the UK! In fact, in Northern Ireland, the maximum tuition fee is exactly £3,465-a-year.

What is the allowance for a Maintenance Loan in Northern Ireland?

Well, this all very much depends on your living situation, if you’re living at home during university, you’ll be earning a tidy sum of £3,750 maximum, whereas, if you’re flying the nest and living in halls at university, then you’ll have around £4,000 all to yourself!

Is a Maintenance Loan means-tested in Northern Ireland?

It is indeed! The amount that you have coming into the house and your overall living situation will obviously impact the amount of money that you actually receive!

Is there anything that I can get to help me with living costs in Northern Ireland?

Well, while the maintenance loan, has to be paid back, a Maintenance Grant does not. The threshold is actually quite large, too. If you are earning £41,065-a-year, or below, then you are entitled to a maintenance grant.

Can I still get a maintenance grant in Northern Ireland if I am on Income Support?

You can’t, but you are eligible for other useful benefits. Essentially, a maintenance grant is aimed specifically at low-income families or those with little chance of paying the loan back, whereas a Special Support Grant, will help those that are looking for help whilst claiming other income support benefits. There are various bursaries, grants and scholarships to help students with this anyway.

How do EU nationals apply for student finance in Northern Ireland?

EU Nationals have to meet certain criteria in order to study in the UK in general. If you have been living in the European Economic Area or Switzerland over the past three years, then you are able to apply to universities in Northern Ireland and claim student finance.

If I am for elsewhere in the UK, how much will I pay for tuition fees in Northern Ireland?

Well, if you’re for England, Scotland or Wales, you’re in for a disappointment. The fees are basically unlimited in terms of how far they can go. However, the fees will never rise above £9,250, which isn’t much comfort, when you realise that you will potentially be paying higher tuition fees than everyone else. The fees will obviously depend on the university, whereabouts in the country you’re studying and what the overall course is. If you’re from Northern Ireland, you won’t ever really pay over £4,000. So think about whereabouts you’rethinking of studying abroad, next year! 

What is the difference between student finance in Northern Ireland and student finance in the Republic of Ireland?

Well, you might want to be sitting down for this one, young one! To explain the difference between the student finance in Northern Ireland and the student finance in Ireland, one would have to explain the intricate differences between the two countries. While that is certainly a rich and interesting topic, it’s another chat for another day, but the short answer is that the Republic of Ireland (ROI) is an independent sovereign state. While Northern Ireland is considered a part of the United Kingdom, along with England, Wales and Scotland, the Republic of Ireland is not considered to be a part of the UK. While the religious and political motivations for the division could fill several articles worth of content, the Good Friday agreement is the main thing that keeps the countries as they are, and would need a Brexit style referendum to change the status of either country.

Now, that we’ve got the incredibly complex history of the country out of the way, let’s look at the student finance side of things! Basically, while the Republic of Ireland uses the Euro currency, Northern Ireland, uses pound sterling. The easiest thing here is that the cost of studying in the Republic of Ireland is €3,000-a-year. Pretty standard and easy to understand, so take some comfort that it may be cheaper a few miles over the border!

Do tuition fees suffer from inflation in Northern Ireland?

Of course, they do! If it’s something that can be charged, it isn’t exempt from inflation and tuition fees are no different! Tuition fees will always be kept as cheap as the government can get it, but you will always pay for it unless of course, other political parties decide to change this.

Are part-time students entitled to the same fees in Northern Ireland?

Ahh. Now, we face some tough love. No. There are not regulations for part-time students, which basically means that a university can charge you whatever they like (Within reason, of course). Universities will set the fees themselves, but you should definitely check with your university choices before you apply.

Are the fees different for different courses?

Basically, yes. The type of course that you do will obviously depend on the amount of money that you’re charged. Many universities will charge you depending on what the course itself is. However, many courses themselves will have different degrees of difficulty (If you’ll pardon the pun), for instance, those who wish to teach History as a career will need a History degree, and then apply to study a PGCE degree at university. The fees involved will very much depend on what you’re applying for.

So there you are! Everything that you need to know about Northern Irish student finance, the majority of student finance and student finance rules are the same as the rest of the UK, with one or two subtle differences, so make sure you check out all of our student finance articles to learn more about student finance in the UK, good luck!