Unlike other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland has no higher education funding council; the Department fulfils the roles of both a government department and a funding council.
This website contains departmental information on higher education. For student-related information (including student finance) visit the dedicated Student Finance NI website.
Visit nibusinessinfo.co.uk website for information on higher education training opportunities for employers.
Who delivers higher education
Higher education in Northern Ireland is delivered through three universities and two university colleges:
- The Queen’s University Belfast
- Ulster University
- The Open University in Northern Ireland
- St Mary’s University College Belfast
- Stranmillis University College
Higher education courses are also delivered in the six further education colleges:
Higher Education Division
The Department provides funding and sets the strategic direction for the higher education sector. However, the universities are autonomous institutions and are responsible for setting their own policies and procedures.
Student Support Branch
Responsible for student support including student loans and grants, and education maintenance allowance.
HE Institution Finance Branch
Responsible for financial support of the sector and the promotion of good financial practice.
Capital and Student Finance Branch
Responsible for the funding, monitoring and governance of departmentally funded capital projects within Northern Ireland's Higher Education Sector, as well as the funding and budget monitoring of student support and Education Maintenance Allowance.
Policy and Coordination Branch
Responsible for formulating and implementing policies relating to, among others, learning and teaching, admissions, HE information, economically relevant provision, course designation and developing future higher education policy for Northern Ireland, in consultation with the sector, and other stakeholders. It is also responsible for coordinating all HE Division-wide matters.
Research and Knowledge Exchange Branch
Administers funding and formulates policy for research and knowledge exchange activities. Also responsible for managing the Postgraduate Awards scheme.
Quality and Governance Branch
Responsible for supporting the HE sector in maintaining and improving the quality of the teaching and learning environment, with particular focus on contributing to a positive student experience.