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I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in Northern Ireland?

By David Malcolm

Monday 18 March 2013 Higher education

If you want to study for a medicine, dentistry or healthcare qualification (either an undergraduate diploma or degree) you can get funding from the government in Northern Ireland, the DHSSPS or NHS to help with tuition fees and living costs, depending on what you want to study and where. You can get this funding if you normally live in Northern Ireland and want to study in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK, or you’re from England, Wales or Scotland and want to study in Northern Ireland.

This topic contains the following:

Can I get higher education funding in Northern Ireland?

To get the funding outlined below, you and your course must be eligible for it. These details are for students who normally live in Northern Ireland, or normally live in England, Wales or Scotland and want to study in Northern Ireland. For more details about eligibility, see Can I get higher education funding in the UK?

I want to study medicine or dentistry – what funding can I get?

If you want to study for a degree in medicine or dentistry, the funding you can get depends on what sort of course you want to take.

If you normally live in Northern Ireland and you want to take a full-time standard five or six year medicine or dentistry undergraduate course in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK, you can get the following funding for the fifth and later years of your course only (these figures are for 2012/2013):

  • Tuition fee grant: each year your tuition fees are paid directly to the university for you by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS). You don’t have to pay them back.
  • Bursary: each year you can get a bursary from the DHSSPS to help cover living costs (eg accommodation, food, books). The amount you get depends on your household income (your parents’ or partner’s income plus yours) – up to £2,355 if you live away from your parental home. You don’t get as much during your final year of study. The money is paid directly to your bank account, and you don’t need to pay it back.
  • Loan for living costs: each year you can get a loan from Student Finance NI to help cover living costs. The amount you can borrow doesn’t depend on your household income. You can get up to £2,370 – but you can’t borrow as much if you live at home with your parents while you study. Also, you can’t borrow as much during your final year of study. The money is paid directly into your bank account, and you must pay it back when you’ve finished your course and you’re earning enough.

For the first four years of your course you can get the standard package of full-time undergraduate student support that’s available from Student Finance NI. For more details, see What funding is available in Northern Ireland for full-time undergraduates (or equivalent) studying in the UK?

If you already have a degree in another subject and want to study on a four year graduate-entry medicine or dentistry undergraduate course in England, Wales or Scotland, you can’t get a bursary from the DHSSPS or NHS, or any support for tuition fees from Student Finance NI. But you can get support for living costs from Student Finance NI for the duration of your course: maintenance loans and some supplementary grants.

If you normally live in England, Wales or Scotland and you want to study medicine or dentistry in Northern Ireland, you can get your funding from the NHS in the country where you normally live. For more information, see:

I want to study other healthcare subjects in Northern Ireland – what funding can I get?

If you want to study subjects other than medicine or dentistry in Northern Ireland, the funding you can get depends on what you want to study. You can get funding to study in Northern Ireland if you’re resident there, or you’re from England, Wales or Scotland.

If you want to study for a degree in one of the allied health professions (AHPs – eg physiotherapy, occupational therapy, radiography, speech and language therapy, podiatry, dietetics), you can get the following funding for the whole duration of your course (these figures are for 2011/2012):

  • Tuition fee grant: each year your tuition fees are paid directly to the university for you by the DHSSPS. You don’t have to pay them back.
  • Bursary: each year you can get a bursary from the DHSSPS to help cover living costs (eg accommodation, food, books). The amount you get depends on your household income (your parents’ or partner’s income plus yours) – up to £2,355 if you live away from your parental home. You don’t get as much during your final year of study. The money is paid directly to your bank account, and you don’t need to pay it back.
  • Loan for living costs: each year you can get a loan from Student Finance NI to help cover living costs. The amount you can borrow doesn’t depend on your household income. You can get up to £2,370 – but you can’t borrow as much if you live at home with your parents while you study. Also, you can’t borrow as much during your final year of study. The money is paid directly into your bank account, and you must pay it back when you’ve finished your course and you’re earning enough.

If you want to study for a degree or diploma in nursing, you can get the same funding as AHP students, except that the amount of bursary you get doesn’t depend on your household income, and you can’t get a loan for living costs.

If you’re a student from the EU and you want to study nursing or an allied health profession, you may not have to pay tuition fees, but you can’t get a bursary or loan.

I want to study other healthcare subjects in England or Wales – what funding can I get?

If you normally live in Northern Ireland and you want to study subjects other than medicine or dentistry in England or Wales, the funding you can get depends on what you want to study.

If you want to study for a degree, either in nursing or one of the AHP subjects, you can get the following funding for the whole duration of your course (these figures are for 2012/2013):

  • NHS bursary: each year you can get a bursary from the NHS in England or Wales to cover your tuition fees and help cover living costs (eg accommodation, food, books). You don’t need to pay it back. You get the bursary from the country in which you’re studying, so if you’re studying in England you get funding from the NHS in England. For more information, see I’m studying medicine, dentistry or healthcare – what higher education funding can I get in England or Wales?
  • Loan for living costs: each year you can get a loan from Student Finance NI to help cover living costs. The amount you can borrow doesn’t depend on your household income. You can get up to £2,370 – but you can’t borrow as much during your final year of study. The money is paid directly into your bank account, and you must pay it back when you’ve finished your course and you’re earning enough.

If you want to study for a diploma in nursing, you can get the same funding as nursing or AHP degree students, except that you can’t get a loan for living costs.

I want to study other healthcare subjects in Scotland – what funding can I get?

If you normally live in Northern Ireland and you want to study subjects other than medicine or dentistry in Scotland, the funding you can get depends on what you’re studying. If you want to study for a:

Can I get any extra funding for special circumstances?

If you get a bursary from the DHSSPS, NHS or Scottish Government Health Directorate, you may get extra allowances depending on your circumstances. For more information, see:

How do I apply for funding?

If you normally live in Northern Ireland and want to study there, or you want to study medicine or dentistry elsewhere in the UK, you should apply for all your funding to Student Finance NI. They deal with bursary arrangements on behalf of the DHSSPS as well as loans and grants. Contact your local office. However, if you want to study nursing or an AHP subject in:

  • England, apply directly to the NHS Business Services Authority once you’ve got a place on an NHS-funded course.
  • Wales, you get an NHS bursary application pack when a university or college offers you a place on an NHS-funded course.
  • Scotland, contact the Student Awards Agency for Scotland when a university or college offers you a place on a course.

Apply to Student Finance NI at the same time if you’re entitled to a loan. NHS and Scottish Government Health Directorate bursaries may be limited, so if you don’t get one you should apply for support from your Student Finance NI office in the same way as other new students.

If you normally live in England, Wales or Scotland and you want to study in Northern Ireland, you should apply for your DHSSPS bursary and other funding to the North Eastern Education and Library Board.

Where can I find more information?

For more information about DHSSPS and NHS funding, see:

For more about funding from Student Finance NI, see How can I contact Student Finance ni? and What higher education funding is available in Northern Ireland?

This information was updated in March 2013. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.