Northern Ireland

Rise in NI students at colleges in Britain

students on seat Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The figures include undergraduate and postgraduate, full and part-time students

The proportion of Northern Irish students at universities elsewhere in the UK is at a 10-year high.

Figures published by the Department for the Economy (DfE) show 17,440 NI students were in higher education in England, Scotland or Wales in 2018.

That was more than a quarter (27.7%) of all Northern Irish students last year.

Of those, 5,335 were at universities in the north-west of England, while 4,175 were studying in Scotland - the two most popular regions.

Liverpool's John Moores University had 1,985 students from Northern Ireland.

'Upwards trajectory'

The figures include undergraduate and postgraduate, full and part-time students.

DfE said that the rise was likely to be the result of a number of factors, including changes in tuition fees, the lifting of student number caps, and increased applications and offers.

"The numbers studying in GB are generally on an upwards trajectory, particularly among full-time students," its analysis said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Changes in tuition fees, the lifting of student number caps, as well as increased applications and offers are believed to have influenced the trend

Previous statistics from DfE have shown that two-thirds of Northern Irish full-time students who studied elsewhere in the UK did not return home to work after graduating.

Meanwhile, the number of students at universities in Northern Ireland - including the Open University - fell slightly from last year.

There were 54,460 student enrolments here in 2018, down by 110 (0.2%) on the previous year.

That decrease was primarily down to a fall in the number of part-time students.

'Over half of students women'

In 2018, 45,490 students learning in Northern Ireland were from Northern Ireland, but DfE's figures also show a diverse student population.

There were 8,970 students from more than 110 countries in higher education here in 2018.

While most came from elsewhere in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, there were 1,255 from China.

Women made up 57% of all Northern Irish students in 2018, but a slightly higher proportion of male students were in full-time study.

Subjects linked to medicine, business and education were the most popular among local students.

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