In the 2012-2013 academic year a total of 64,400 Northern Ireland domiciled students enrolled at higher education institutions across the United Kingdom. Of this figure, 43,380 or 67 per cent of Northern Ireland students were enrolled upon a higher education (HE) course within a Northern Ireland higher education institution. Meanwhile, over a quarter of students, some 16,570, travelled to Great Britain to embark upon courses. At the same time, an influx of 8,335 students from Great Britain embarked upon HE courses within Northern Ireland. In addition, some 4,445 students or 7 per cent of the total Northern Ireland-domiciled student population who enrolled at UK HEIs did so within the Open University.
Over the ten previous academic years, the figures for Northern Ireland student enrolment at HEIs in Great Britain increased by 2 per cent. The most popular geographic regions for students in 2012-2013 were Scotland (4,195) and the North West of England (4,365). As illustrated by the figures, the students enrolled within these regions encompassed over half of the total figure for local students registered at HEIs in Great Britain. However, between 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, Northern Ireland student numbers at these HEIs experienced a 2 per cent slump.
Similarly, Northern Ireland HEIs saw a mirrored increase and decline in student registration. Thus, in the previous ten academic years these institutions had a 1 per cent increase in total student enrolment. However, again in 2012-2013 this figure saw a decrease of less than 1 per cent. While the vast majority of students enrolled in local HEIs during this year were Northern Ireland-domiciled, a total of 8,335 (16 per cent) of the overall 51,715 were external. When this external contingent is broken down, it emerges that 5 per cent enrolled in 2012-2013 were from the Republic of Ireland, 4 per cent were from Great Britain, and 1 per cent were from other EU countries whilst 6 per cent came from non-EU countries.
The figure for local students registering at third level institutions in the Republic of Ireland is comparatively low. In 2013, only 563 students from Northern Ireland were enrolled on third level courses in the Republic of Ireland.
Meanwhile, between 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 there was an increased enrolment across professional and technical, further education (FE) level and higher education level courses within Northern Ireland FEIs. Although this growth in enrolment was more evident within the part-time programmes, with a 3 per cent surge, a marginal increase (0.12 per cent) took place within full-time enrolment.