Higher education in Northern Ireland comprises primarily three universities and two university colleges.

Region Overview

Northern Ireland came into being in 1920, when Ireland was partitioned between the six counties in the north and the 26 counties in the south. The northern counties would remain in the United Kingdom, while the southern counties went on to gain independence in 1949. Decades of violent conflict between those wishing to remain in the UK and those wishing to unite the island came to a ragged end in the 1990s after fitful negotiations led to a peace settlement. In 2007 a power-sharing government was sworn in, ending direct rule from London.


The climate of Northern Ireland is an oceanic climate, or temperate maritime climate. It is classified as Cfb on the Köppen climate classification system. Northern Ireland has a latitude between 54°N and 56°N and winters are much milder and wetter than many other cities on this latitude, such as Moscow, Omsk or Novosibirsk. However, summers are generally cooler and wetter than other cities along a similar latitude. These climatic differences are because of the prevailing westerly winds from the Gulf Stream, a warm Atlantic ocean current. The influence of the Gulf Stream also ensures the coastline of Northern Ireland remains ice-free throughout the winter—unlike for example the Sea of Okhotsk and the Labrador Sea which are at a similar latitude. The climate in Northern Ireland does not experience extreme weather, with tornadoes and similar weather features being rare

Annual rainfall
Rainfall in Northern Ireland normally comes from Atlantic frontal systems which travel north-east over Northern Ireland, bringing cloud and rain. The west is normally wetter than the east, with up to 2,000 millimetres (78.7 in) in the west, and only 825 millimetres (32.5 in) around the Lough Neagh basin and the far south-east, including towns such as Kilkeel and Newcastle. Mountainous areas such as the Sperrins, Glens of Antrim and the Mourne Mountains are wetter than the surrounding lowland. Spring is the driest season. October, November, December and January are the wettest months, with each of these months receiving on average over 100 millimetres (3.9 in) of rainfall. Parts of north-western Northern Ireland receive over 200 days of rainfall over 1 millimetre (0.04 in), but in the sheltered south-east, rain occurs under 160 days a year. The highest-ever rainfall recorded in one day was on 31 October 1968 at Tollymore Forest, County Down; 158.9 millimetres (6.26 in) of rain was recorded on that day.





Overview of Higher Education

Higher education in Northern Ireland effectively comprises three universities and two university colleges. The institutions serve some 48,000 and 2,000 students, respectively.

The six colleges of further and higher education also play a considerable role, providing a wide range of specialized courses to more than 12,000 students.

Students may pursue a master’s degree through either course instruction or research. A doctorate is awarded typically after an additional three years of supervised research.

Residents of Northern Ireland may study at institutions throughout the United Kingdom.

(Sources: BBC, Northern Ireland Department for Employment and Learning)

Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes

Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes (total): 11

Number of Higher Education Students

Number of students enrolled: 138,558

Number of international students enrolled: 16,626

Contact Information

British Council Northern Ireland
Web site:

EducationUK Northern Ireland
Web site: