Plan for Republic to fund 250 NI student nurse and midwifery places welcomed in North

Stormont’s Department of Health had cut 300 student nursing places for coming academic year as part of cost-cutting measures

Stormont health authorities have welcomed a plan by the Government in the Republic to fund 250 student nursing and midwifery places in Northern Ireland universities.

The one-year plan would address a shortfall in student places for the 2023/24 academic year resulting from the budgetary crisis North of the Border.

Senior civil servants at Stormont, who are currently running public services in Northern Ireland in the absence of devolution, are facing a funding black hole running into hundreds of millions of pounds this year.

Stormont’s Department of Health had cut 300 student nursing places for the coming academic year as part of a series of cost-cutting measures.


The proposed intervention from Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will address much of that shortfall.

The plan, reported by The Irish Times on Saturday, would see a €10 million investment creating 200 undergraduate places for Republic of Ireland students and 50 places for Northern Ireland students in the two main universities North of the Border – Queen’s and Ulster University.

Commenting on the proposal, a spokeswoman for Stormont’s Department of Health said: “The Department of Health welcomes this planned one-year arrangement which will help maintain the current training infrastructure for pre-registration nurse training, ahead of an intended future increase in NI-funded places in the event of additional funding being available.

“A proportion of the nursing and midwifery training places being funded will be students from Northern Ireland.

“In addition, the NI health service will benefit from the fact students with ROI-funded nursing and midwifery training places in NI universities will do practical training here, making a vital contribution to care for patients.

“All those graduating from ROI-funded places will be free to take up employment in the NI health service if that is their preferred option.

“This planned one-year funding arrangement will be an important practical step in fostering future collaboration across the island of Ireland in the important area of healthcare training which will be to the mutual benefit of our healthcare systems.”

Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon also welcomed the reported development.

“Reports that the Irish Government is set to invest €10 million to fund 250 student nursing places in the North is a hugely positive development,” she said.

“Savage Tory cuts have resulted in hundreds of student nursing places being axed at a time when our health service is facing chronic staff shortages.

“This vital cross-Border funding would ensure that we can train hundreds of nurses and midwives and provide a welcome boost to our local universities who would benefit from extra student places.” – PA