By Emma Austin
- Good things come in small packages, which is certainly the case with Northern Ireland. Although only 5,345 square miles in size, a lot has been condensed into the north east of the idyllic Emerald Isle, as major cities and mountainous, mythical landscapes sit side by side in this utterly unique area of the UK. Exciting and emerging, Northern Ireland’s recent renovations and regeneration projects make the country increasingly popular with students, drawing in potential undergrads and postgrads with cities crammed with culture, bursting with nightlife and packed with prospects.
With only two universities in the country, Northern Ireland opts for a quality over quantity approach to higher education, offering internationally regarded study programmes at Queen’s University Belfast and The University of Ulster. Recognised for research, Queen’s University offers everything from Accounting to Zoology. Their comprehensive list of courses are not only taught by world-leading academics but 21 of them have been ranked in the top 20 subject areas in The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014. Established in 1845, Queen’s is the 9th oldest institution in the UK and this remarkable reputation has attracted over 17,000 students of over 80 different nationalities this academic year. Historic but certainly not pre-historic, Queen’s facilities are state of the art with over £20million invested in the university sports buildings, which were used for Olympic training in 2012. Graduates have included a Nobel Laureate, an Oscar Nominee and the 8th President of Northern Ireland, so imagine adding your name to that list of acclaimed alumni!
The University of Ulster is the largest institution in Ireland, with an enormous student population of 25,000. As one of the top 20 most applied to universities in the UK, Ulster attracts an abundance of applicants impressed by the university’s leading sports programmes and industry standard facilities, which are also used by Northern Ireland's professional athletes and sports teams. Whether you’re longing to be a linguist or craving to be creative, students at Ulster will flourish within the accredited Faculty of Arts, which houses a range of diverse degrees from Design, to French and even Irish.
As a world exporter of whiskey, Northern Ireland social life is bound to be beyond belief! An abundance of bars and restaurants filled with friendly locals will make any international student feel right at home. Experience the energetic city of Belfast, the country’s capital, through their vast array of entertainment venues such as The Empire, muse in the multitude of museums or cure those mid-semester blues with a spot of shopping at Victoria Square. Alternatively, contemplate the tragic tale of the Titanic at Titanic Belfast, an absolute must for hopeful historians, and experience the voyage of the iconic vessel from its creation at Belfast dock, to its disastrous demise in 1912. Culture vultures and aspiring artists can absorb the inspiring arts scene in Northern Ireland at 2013’s UK City of Culture, Derry-Londonderry. As this year’s host of arguably the most prestigious art award in the UK, The Turner Prize, Londonderry provides a promising start for any up and coming artist.
In need of a break from the stresses of study or bored of the buzz of the big city; then the great outdoors are just a stones throw away. The Giant’s Causeway, Ireland’s most iconic natural landmark, is the stuff of legends. A haven for geologists and geography grads, the Causeway has spawned the legend of Finn McCool the Giant, who allegedly carved the incredible formation from the side of the cliff! Floods of tourists flock to this World Heritage Site each year, to take in the breath taking natural beauty of the area and surrounding coast, however as a student at one of Northern Ireland’s exceptional institutions, this lush landscape and wealth of wildlife could become your back yard.