Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: 47% of higher education students are Catholics and 30% Protestants

By Michael Sheils McNamee

New figures released by the Department of the Economy have shown that there are around one-third more Catholic students than Protestant students in Northern Ireland's higher education institutions.

Out of the 43,415 NI resident students that enrolled in higher education for 2015/2016, 47.4% (20,595) were 'Roman Catholic', 30.2% (13,125) were 'Protestant', and 22.3% of students fell into the 'Other' or 'Not Known' categories.

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Students attending higher education institutes in Northern Ireland who are not from the province were not counted in the figures.

Over the past five years these demographics have remained fairly stable.

Back in 2011/2012 the number of Catholic students stood at 49%, while the number of Protestant students stood at 33.5% - indicating a slight increase in the size of other religious demographics in Northern Ireland's higher education institutes.

The figures aim to give a broad overview of equality categories across Northern Ireland's higher education institutes, and show significant movement in some other areas.

For 2015/2016 the 5,140 students who self-reported as having a disability made up a total of 9.3% of the total number enrolled.

This was a substantial jump from 2011/2012, when students with disabilities made up just 6.6% of the total body of students.

There has also been a drop in the number of students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds attending higher education institutes in Northern Ireland.

In 2011/2012 a total of 1,035 students of Chinese or Indian ethnicity were enrolled, a figure that was down to 650 by 2015/2016.

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