Nearly half of NI students don’t think university is worth the money


A new survey by asked students in Northern Ireland about their experience at university during the cost-of-living crisis.

The survey found that nearly half of NI students involved in the study (47%) thought that university wasn’t worth the money.

Nearly three quarters of students (72%) said they were shocked at how expensive university was. 18% of respondents said, considering fees, accommodation, transport and living expenses, they were paying around £6-8,000 yearly for university while 15% said it was costing them roughly £10-15,000 per year.

The survey found that two fifths of NI students (40%) needed more than one source of income to afford university, with nearly a quarter (24%) using three or more sources of income to support them through their studies – namely, family support, a part-time job and a student loan.

Government data suggests that students are relying more on student loan payments than in previous years to pay for university. A total of £221.7 million was paid out on behalf of Northern Ireland and EU borrowers in the financial year 2021-22 for undergraduate Tuition Fee Loans, an additional £2.5 million (+ 1.1%) compared to 2020-21.*

With this in mind, is launching its annual Fintech Scholarship designed to raise awareness of the vast career opportunities available within the fintech sector that help make university costs worthwhile.

The fintech industry generates £392 million for the local economy here in Northern Ireland.** There are nearly 40,000 people employed in the financial and related professional services sector in NI, with one in four employed in areas of fintech – with a reputation for lucrative salaries and a wealth of benefits and development opportunities.***

The application process for the scholarship involves submitting a blog or vlog post discussing any barriers and benefits they believe there are to a university education and any barriers to pursuing a career in the fintech sector – to help shed some light on these important issues. The blog or vlog should also discuss the potential benefits the fintech industry has for Northern Ireland and for students.

The winner of the scholarship will receive a £1000 bursary which can be used to help ease some study costs, or even course materials and living expenses.  The winner will also get the option to take part in industry related work experience at – to help support the candidate with recruitment.

Commenting on the scholarship, Ian Wilson, Managing Director at said: “The cost-of-living crisis is impacting everyone right now and students are one of the groups that have been hardest hit. Our survey results show significant financial pressures on students which has led to nearly half of them admitting they don’t think university is worth the money.

“With this in mind, we wanted to use our scholarship initiative as a platform to highlight the opportunities available for students who invest in further education.  The fintech industry in Northern Ireland is expanding rapidly, with a wealth of well-paid opportunities for all students from all courses.

“Now in its fourth year, our fintech scholarship aims to support the winner with a financial prize as well as hands on experience to support them in their recruitment efforts – in the hope they consider this booming industry as a viable option for their career.”

Last year’s winner was Syed Muhammad Abid Raza from Ulster University, who wrote an insightful blog on how fintech is revolutionising financial services.

The deadline to enter the CompareNI Fintech Scholarship is 30 April 2024, full details of how to apply are available here.


Survey of 500 university students and young people aged between 18-30 in Northern Ireland, during August 2023, created and compiled by




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