Initial Teacher Education

Initial teacher education encompasses undergraduate (Bachelor in Education) and postgraduate (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) courses in higher education that lead to a qualification to teach.

The Department has responsibility for the administration and funding of initial teacher education in Northern Ireland.

The Department appoints governors to the Boards of Governors of both St Mary’s University College and Stranmillis University College.

The policy relating to delivery and content of teacher education, including initial teacher education, is the responsibility of the Department of Education. The Department of Education also determines student intake allocations to the higher education institutions in Northern Ireland.

Courses in initial teacher education are provided at:

For more information on courses of initial teacher education, please visit the Department of Education website.

Study of the Teacher Education Infrastructure - Stage 1

In November 2011 the Minister announced a two stage study of the teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland. 

The first part of the study carried out an objective analysis of the financial stability and sustainability of the two university colleges and benchmarked the cost of teacher training in Northern Ireland against comparators in the United Kingdom.

The stage one study was completed by independent consultants, Grant Thornton and published on 21 May 2013.

For a full copy of the published report and the oral statement made by the then Minister presenting the findings of the report to the Northern Ireland Assembly, visit:

Study of the Teacher Education Infrastructure - Stage 2

In May 2013 the Minister announced the second stage of the study of the teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland in order to set out options for a more shared and integrated system for the delivery and funding of teacher education.

In September 2013, the Minister announced the appointment of a panel of international education experts to examine the case for the reform of teacher education provision in Northern Ireland based on best international practice. The Panel consisted of:

  • Pasi Sahlberg, Visiting Professor of Practice, Harvard University (Chair)
  • Professor Patricia Broadfoot CBE, University of Bristol
  • John Coolahan, Emeritus Professor of Education, National University of Ireland Maynooth
  • John Furlong, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Oxford
  • Gordon Kirk OBE, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Edinburgh; Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers

In October 2013 the Review Panel, asked the teacher training providers and also those with an interest in teacher education for submissions on the structures that would be necessary to create a world class system of initial teacher education in Northern Ireland which also enhances and improves sharing and integration within the sector. The call for submissions closed on 18 December 2013.

In addition to the submissions from the teacher training providers, the call for submissions generated a further 109 responses from interested stakeholders and a report summarising the issues raised has been produced.

The Review Panel also produced an overview of current developments in the field of initial teacher education provision which represents best practice internationally.

The themes in the international overview paper are also included in the Review Panel’s final report Aspiring to Excellence.

The final report of the Review Panel, Aspiring to Excellence, offered options for the future shape of initial teacher education infrastructure in Northern Ireland and was published on 1 July 2014.

Minister presented the findings of the report in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 1st July 2014.

For further details on Stage 2 including its terms of reference, the summary of responses, the overview of international trends and the final report and Minister's oral statement, visit:

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