The UCU (University and College Union) has blamed higher tuition fees for a dramatic fall in the number of students beginning degree courses.
NI has seen a 9% drop in the number of first year students
The latest figures show a 9% drop in the number of first year students in Northern Ireland in 2006/07.
In England, there was a 2% fall while Scotland and Wales showed increases of 4% and 3% respectively.
Overall, the number of people enrolling at UK universities was actually up by 1%.
The University and College Union says the figures clearly show that where top-up fees of £3,000 were introduced, there has been a fall in interest, but nowhere as dramatic as in Northern Ireland.
Scottish and Welsh students do not pay so-called tuition fees unlike their English and Northern Irish counterparts.