Funding higher education providers
In support of the provision of higher education in Northern Ireland, the Department provides significant funding each year to Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, the Open University, St Mary’s University College and Stranmillis University College. Higher education is also funded and delivered through the six regional Further Education colleges.
While the universities are autonomous bodies, with responsibility for how they make use of their funding, their allocations in recent years were made in the context of the following aims:
- to enhance universities’ research capabilities and research quality;
- to support the universities in achieving long-term sustainability;
- to exploit fully the contribution which the universities can make to the economy and, in particular, to increase their responsiveness to the needs of business and the community;
- to increase participation and widen access, particularly from groups who are under-represented in higher education;
- to improve quality and standards of teaching and learning alongside promoting greater flexibility in delivery;
- to ensure effective governance of all the universities’ affairs.
The Department makes grant payments to higher education institutions under:
- Article 30 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1993; and
- Article 66 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986
The universities operate under the provisions of their establishing Charters.
- Queen’s University Belfast – Charter and Statutes
- Ulster University - Charter and Statutes
- Open University - Charter and Statutes
The university colleges
St Mary’s University College has its origins in a training college established in 1900 by the Dominican Sisters on the present Falls Road site for the education of women students and their preparation for teaching in primary schools. The college has developed and evolved to also include training for male students (for some years on a separate site) and preparation for teaching in secondary schools.
Stranmillis University College was founded as a non-denominational institution in 1922 to provide state-funded teacher training alongside that already available at the then existing St Mary’s College.
Both institutions have since become academically recognised as university colleges of the Queen’s University of Belfast. The University has overarching responsibility for academic quality and standards and validates the courses offered by both institutions.
In 2005 Stranmillis was incorporated in its present form under the provisions of
As from 1 April 2012, Stranmillis has been classified as a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) of the Department.
The universities are governed in accordance with their Charter and Statutes.
The Governing Body of Queen’s University Belfast (Senate) :
The Governing Body of Ulster University (Council) :
The Governing Body of the Open University (Council), operating across the UK:
The Department for has no role in the appointment of members to the university governing bodies.
The university colleges
St Mary’s University College is governed in accordance with its Scheme of Management.
The Department appoints representative Governors through open competitions run in accordance with the code of practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI). Members are normally appointed for an initial period of 5 years but can be re-appointed for a second term. The Department has no role in the appointment of the other members of the Governing Body.
Stranmillis University College is governed in accordance with the Colleges of Education (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 and its Instrument of Government and Articles of Government.
Representatives (including the Chair) are selected through open competitions run by the Department in accordance with the code of practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland (CPANI). Members are normally appointed for an initial period of 4 years but can be re-appointed for a second term.
While the Department formally appoints all members of the Stranmillis Governing Body, it has no role in the selection of the ex-officio or staff representative members.