Cross-border costs and funding: Ireland and Northern Ireland
There are many reasons for students to move from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland, or vice versa, to undertake postgraduate study. The best course in your field may be in the other jurisdiction, it might not be possible to pursue fourth-level programmes in your chosen specialism at your undergraduate college, or you may simply want a change of scenery.
While you’ll find no differences in teaching style, there are practical considerations to be aware of. The most obvious is the currency difference. Anecdotal evidence suggests that students from the eurozone find that the euro doesn’t stretch as far in the UK.
Some students in the border regions tend to travel home each night, rather than socialising and living in Northern Ireland, to save money. However, the cost of accommodation is lower in Northern Ireland: the average rent for a room ranges from around £40–50 per week for digs near the University of Ulster's Coleraine and Magee campuses to around £60 per week in Belfast.
There is a limited amount of funding available specifically for those wishing to study over the border. The North-South Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme offers funding to postgraduates undertaking a recognised Masters or first year of a PhD programme, taught or research, in the other Irish jurisdiction. The scholarships are offered by Universities Ireland in conjunction with the electricity Supply Board (ESB). Dublin Institute of Technology is also a partner in the scheme. The 2012/13 scholarships are worth €15,000 (£12,500 approx) each and there are five up for grabs in total: three in the fields of engineering and energy, the remaining two in art, business, science and social science. The closing date for applications is Friday 25 May. See www.crossborder.ie for more details.
There is no longer any financial help available from local education authorities in Northern Ireland. Students from the Republic studying in Northern Ireland may qualify for a grant from their county councils, subject to means testing and residency.
Be aware that the Higher Education grant in the Republic of Ireland has now been absorbed into the Student Grant Scheme, which will have implications for postgraduate students from the Republic. Contact your relevant local authority for further information.
2012–13 updates to the Student Grant Scheme are due to be published in May 2012. See www.citizensinformation.ie for more information.
You are classified as resident of the Republic of Ireland for funding purposes if you have been living in the Republic for a year (eg from October of the year previous to starting a postgraduate course). It could therefore be useful for a Northern Irish student to take a job in the Republic for a year so as to be classified as a resident.
You are classified as a mature student if you are aged 23 by 1 January of the year you begin study and can be assessed as independent of your parents.