Postgraduate study in Britain
There are over 160 higher education institutions in England, Scotland and Wales, including some of the oldest in the world, such as Oxford and Cambridge. All of these are regulated by a number of official bodies to maintain a high standard of research and teaching. The basic postgraduate degree structures are the same as those in the Republic and Northern Ireland: taught and research. Studying in England, Scotland or Wales offers you the chance to study away from home, but not so far away that you spend all your time and money travelling.
How to apply
There is no central body for applications so you need to apply directly to individual institutions. It is advisable to shortlist about four to six courses. Apply as early as possible in the academic year and be aware that some courses, such as medicine, law and teacher training courses, have earlier deadlines.
An undergraduate degree from an Irish or Northern Irish university will generally be treated the same as a British qualification but check with the admissions office if you're not sure. For a research degree, you will be asked to write a proposal for your intended field of research and might be invited for an interview. If English is not your first language, you will need a minimum score of 6.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
NI and ROI residents are not considered international students and can expect to pay 'home' student fees. According to the British Council the annual home fee for full-time taught courses, including masters degrees, ranges from £3,200 to £6,000. Full-time research programmes vary between £2,800 and £3,800. Accommodation, food, bills and socialising will vary depending on where you choose to live: London can be expensive, while Scotland has relatively low living costs.
Funding your course
You may be able to get funding from the UK Research Councils. Graduates from Northern Ireland can apply for full funding while graduates from the Republic of Ireland (and other EU countries) can apply for a fees-only award.
The Gardiner Awards from Cambridge University are offered specifically to students of Irish and Northern Irish universities. These are available for undergraduate or postgraduate study but preference is given to applicants intending to do research.
Other sources of funding include institutional scholarships and awards, charities, foundations and trusts, career development loans and professional loan schemes. Make sure you apply for funding at least a year before your course begins.