Friday, October 21, 2011

Student demographics

This week we heard remarkable allegations from Jim Allister and Gregory Campbell that Northern Ireland Protestants were under represented in NI Universities. The reason for this we were told was due to the failure of Universities to target Protestants. These allegations came on the back of figures released which show that just one third of Northern Ireland students are Protestant.

Indeed Allister even published a press release on his TUV website to higlight the issue. Not only did Allister take issue with the fact that there were less Protestant students than Catholics, the tone of the press release also did not seem enamoured by the fact that there were many more students studying in NI from the Republic of Ireland than there was from Great Britain.

Reasons for this "imbalance" have been put attributed to a number of factors including:
  • NI Universities failure to target Protestant students
  • Protestants are more likely to study in GB than Catholics
  • More ROI students than GB students studying in NI
  • A "chill factor" for Protestants in NI Universities
  • Working class Protestants do not attend University
  • Catholic schools achieve higher standards academically
However, an article subsequently published in the Belfast Telegraph appears to disprove these claims and points to changing demographics as the reason why Catholics outnumber Protestants in University.

While claims that Universities target students based on religion rather than solely based on acedemic achievement  and claims of a "chill factor" are no more worthy of response as having to explain why ROI students are more likely to attend college in Ireland in greater numbers than those in Britain, the theory of a "Protestant brain drain" merits consideration.

Data has shown that 45% of Protestants and 41% of Catholics attend universities in GB, figures which "are almost neck in neck". This rubbishes the theory that Protestants are far more likely to study in GB than their Catholic counterparts. 

Population statistics show that 51% of pupils in NI schools are Catholic whereas only 37% are Protestant.

"Statistics from both the Departments of Education and Employment and Learning show that the percentage of Protestant pupils attending university reflects demographics. There are now 43,000 more Catholic pupils in our schools — from nursery to sixth form — than Protestants. Dr Peter Shirlow, an academic from Queen’s University Belfast, said the percentage of Catholics and Protestants attending our universities reflected “the share of what the population is”.


  1. Mr Allister and Mr, Campbell just can't let go of their bigotry. It really does ooze out of them whenever they open their mouths. Someone sure did a head job on them when they were children.

  2. They did grow up during PIRA's murder campaign - perhaps that had an effect?