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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Educational division in Northern Ireland estimated to cost more than £600,000 every day

Children playing in school playground.

Research undertaken by Ulster University has estimated that the total additional cost of maintaining a divided education system costs £226 million each year in Northern Ireland.


The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) welcomes the publication of the latest research paper in the series ‘Transforming Education’ from the Ulster University’s UNESCO Centre. 

This paper looks at the cost of a divided education system, and is the latest in a series of research briefings published by the University which are aimed at stimulating debate among educationalists, decision-makers and the wider public.


One of the paper’s authors Dr Stephen Roulston, Research Fellow at UNESCO Centre, School of Education, Ulster University said:

“The price of past division, and its consequences in the present day, can be measured in financial, social and even environmental costs.  Our research would estimate the total additional cost of maintaining a divided education system at £226 million each year, or over £600,000 every day of the year.


"Societal divisions persist and continue to cost our economy, define our confrontational politics and blight the lives of many of the people who live here.  These costs can also be seen in our education system, where division, separation and duplication all add unnecessary and increasingly unaffordable costs.  Consequently, funding which could be spent directly on educating children and young people is wasted.


"There will be some cost to addressing difference, reforming school structures, reorganising governance of schools, preparing teachers to engage with contentious issues with their learners and investigating alternatives to our divided education system. 

"The alternative – continued division and communal distrust and all the social and economic impacts that may engender – may well be more costly. 

"The question is not ‘can we afford to address this?’ Instead, it should be ‘can we really afford not to?”’


Commenting on the paper, Tina Merron, Chief Executive, Integrated Education Fund, said:


“The paper poses the question, what is the cost of a divided school system?  This timely publication will help inform the forthcoming Independent Review of Education, the implementation of the Integrated Education Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 and help to inform education policy in the Northern Ireland.”


Transforming Education Briefing Paper 18 “The Cost of Division in Northern Ireland” will be distributed to politicians and influencers and can be accessed online at


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