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

It’s time to start considering your options ahead of results day.

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.

Routes to University –  Stranmillis University College

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 Stranmillis University  College or other local institutions, or enter full time employment.

Stranmillis, in partnership with local Further Education Colleges, offers two year foundation degrees in Early Childhood Studies and Health, Physical Activity and Sport. We also offer a four year part-time BA degree in Early Childhood Studies. Foundation degrees may allow progression, for students who successfully complete the course, to Year 2 of the relevant degree programme at Stranmillis University College.

CourseEntry RequirementsLocationDurationCourse
Foundation Degree - Early Childhood StudiesCCAll six Regional Colleges2 years F/T or 3 years P/TClick here
Foundation Degree – Health, Physical Activity & SportCCBelfast Met2 yearsClick here
BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies (Part-time)BBBSWC (Omagh)
SRC (Newry)
Stranmillis UC
4 yearsClick here
How does it works?

Here is an example of a typical route. You start by studying a two-year foundation degree at a regional college.

If you meet the entry criteria, you can progress to study at a university in Northern Ireland for a further two years and complete a full degree.

Study a two-year foundation degree in Health, Physical Activity and Sport at Belfast Metropolitan College.

Meet the eligibility to enter Year 2 of the BSc (Hons) Health, Physical Activity and Sport degree at Stranmillis University College in or go straight into employment.

Graduate with an Honours degree after two years of study 

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.

Skills: 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.

Routes to University  – Other Institutions

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.

View Courses

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.

View courses

St Mary’s University College offers a range of education related programmes for progression from FE Colleges.

View Courses

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

View Courses

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

View courses

Regional Further Education Colleges

Campus Locations

To find out more about the regional colleges and the range of courses on offer, click on the relevant college below.