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Routes to University

There's more than one route to a university degree in Northern Ireland.


If you don't get the grades to get straight into university, you don't have to move away from Northern Ireland. There are plenty of options right here.

The six colleges in Northern Ireland offer a wide range of Higher Education (HE) courses that are closely aligned with industry demand and run in conjunction with other top UK education providers.

  • Course types include Degrees, Foundation Degrees, HNDs, HNCs and Higher Level Apprenticeships.
  • Areas of study include Business, Accounting, Travel and Tourism, Construction, Health and Social Care, Sport and many more.


Study a foundation degree or other higher education qualification at one of Northern Ireland’s six further education colleges then progress to complete your degree at St Mary’s University College or other local institutions, or enter full time employment.

For example, Belfast Metropolitan College offers a two year Foundation Degree in Health, Physical Activity and Sport. By completing the Foundation Degree with an average of 60% or higher, progression is available into Year 2 of the BA (Hons) Liberal Arts with Physical Education.


Course Entry Requirements Location Duration Course Information
Foundation Degree – Health, Physical Activity & Sport CC Belfast Met 2 Years Click here


Students have also been successful in admission to our undergraduate courses by completing a Foundation Degree or Higher National Diploma and obtaining high grades in these awards. Further details of the each programme are available by clicking on the relevant link.

BA (Hons) Liberal Arts

This innovative, three-year honors degree offers students the combination of focused study and broad development which is a key feature of a Liberal Arts education. The learning programme seeks to develop the skills necessary to succeed in new and challenging situations. It also offers the challenge of studying a relatively wide range of university modules and the opportunity to deepen one’s personal values and sense of responsibility to the needs of society.
BEd (Hons) Primary

This is a four-year honours degree programme leading to full recognition to teach by the Department of Education and registration with the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland.
BEd (Hons) Post-Primary

This is a four-year honours degree programme leading to full recognition to teach by the Department of Education and registration with the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland.

What are the benefits?

Get a world class education, close to home, while enjoying a low cost of living and a vibrant social life.
Save: Northern Ireland Colleges and Universities have extremely competitive higher education fees in comparison to the rest of the UK.
Spend:  Studying close to home will help you to save on living expenses; allowing you to fully enjoy your time in higher education.
Connections: By staying within NI you’ll remain close to your support network of family and friends.
Qualification: The academic qualifications awarded by NI Colleges and Universities are recognised worldwide.


NI Colleges and Universities develop course content in partnership with local employers, providing you with the skills local employers want.
Employment: High numbers of local graduates obtain employment or go onto further study.
Contribute: By staying local you will contribute to the NI economy, helping us grow and build for our future.



Stranmillis University College

Stranmillis University College offers a range of education related programmes for progression from FE Colleges.

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The Open University

The Open University offers named degree pathways, and the cross-curricular Open Degree, as routes of progression from Further Education colleges.

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University of Ulster

The Further Education colleges offer a number of qualifications which allow progression to Ulster University undergraduate courses.

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Queens University Belfast

Queen’s works in partnership with the Further Education colleges and offer a number of qualifications across a broad range subject areas which allow progression to Queens University undergraduate programmes.

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College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) is a specialist college for land-based courses in  the agri-food and rural sectors in Northern Ireland.

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Belfast Met Further and Higher Education College

Belfast Met is the largest further and Higher Education College in Northern Ireland and one of the largest in the UK.

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At Northern Regional College we offer a range of higher education courses giving you a choice in your learning.

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Our courses are delivered in our state-of-the-art facilities and campuses, and are designed to develop the specific knowledge and skills required.

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At SERC, our Higher Education courses give a great grounding for the next step to your chosen career, whether through employment or further study.

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Choosing a Higher Education course at SRC gives you the chance to study close to home, hence saving you money and time!

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The South West College operates in four campuses in Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen and Omagh.

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