Everything you need to know about college open days

The low-down on life on campus, what not to miss and what’s new in each institution


When is its open day?

December 10th, 9am-3.30pm

Life on campus Trinity has cobbled squares, historic buildings and green playing fields aplenty, plus the entire city as its back yard. Ireland's oldest university, Trinity is a haven in the heart of the city for students and staff alike, with a sense of community that sets it apart. While the city offers a host of social opportunities, more than 150 sports clubs and student societies ensure there's never a dull moment – from the Food and Drink Soc, to aikido, snow sports and GAA.


Trinity's debating societies attract some of the best guest speakers around – with Amy Poehler, Ice Cube, Hozier and Apple chief executive Tim Cook some of the big names to have graced the cobbles in the past year.

Strengths Ireland's leading university, Trinity is the only Irish university in the world's top 100 (QS World University Rankings 2016). Trinity has a long-standing international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, and students can choose from more than 400 degree options. It has state-of-the-art research facilities, including the Trinity Library, Nanoscience Research Institute, Trinity Long Room Hub and the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute.

What's new? Trinity will introduce a new course in Middle Eastern and European languages and cultures for 2017 (TR040). Unique in Ireland, this course will give students the chance to study the history, culture and languages of the Middle East and Europe.

Accommodation The majority of on-campus accommodation is reserved for first-year students at Trinity Hall, but you can't apply for it until you have accepted your CAO place. Trinity's accommodation advisory service, run by the students union, can also help students to find somewhere to live.

Don't miss . . . More than 100 talks and seminars covering every aspect of Trinity life, both academic and social – a chance to meet members of the societies and clubs alongside tours of the world-class laboratories with demonstrations and a visit to the Trinity sports centre or Science Gallery.

More information



When is its open day? Now that DCU has completed the incorporation of St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, the Mater Dei Institute of Education and the Church of Ireland College of Education, there are open days on two campuses: Glasnevin campus – November 18th, 10am-3pm and November 19th, 10am-2pm; St Patrick's campus – November 19th, 9.30am-3.30pm.

Life on campus September 2016 marked a significant milestone for the university with the incorporation of St Patrick's College, Mater Dei Institute of Education and the Church of Ireland College of Education with DCU. The university now has three main campuses; Glasnevin, St Patrick's and All Hallows and a student population of more than 16,000. The new DCU Institute of Education is the first university faculty of education and Ireland's leading centre of expertise in education, offering degrees that prepare teachers and educators for every level of education from early childhood through primary and second level onto higher and further education.

Construction of additional student accommodation is under way for up to 560 students, a new student centre and upgrades to existing facilities, which will take place over the next five years. A new €14 million student centre which will cater for the growing student population is currently being built. Student life is vibrant, with more than 130 clubs and societies across the three campuses. Along with an award-winning gym, state-of-the-art sports campus, playing fields, cafes and restaurants. The campus bar, NuBar, is always a busy spot. It hosts comedy festivals, guest speakers and gigs throughout the year.

DCU is also home to the Helix theatre, which hosts a variety of music and theatre events. Accessing DCU has been made easier, with a series of new bus routes announced by Dublin Bus this semester, including routes to Baldoyle, Portmarnock, Navan and Dunboyne. A number of private operators have also begun service on routes serving up to 13 locations in the northeast and east Leinster.

Strengths DCU is the only Irish university to feature in the QS Top 50 under 50 (years old). The new faculty of education is the largest centre for teacher education in Ireland. It also runs more than 70 programmes across humanities and social sciences, science and health, engineering and computing, business and education.

The DCU business school is now accredited by AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), placing it among the top 5 per cent of business schools worldwide.

Accommodation More than 300 bedrooms are reserved on-campus for first years, on a first-come first-serve basis. The students union also works with local landlords to source digs, apartments and houses.

What's new? The BSc in data science, the first of its kind in Ireland – aimed at students who are interested in a career in big data, data analytics and related data science roles. The requirement for data analytics is evident across all sectors with 21,000 positions required in this sector up to 2020. The course has been designed to fill the ICT skills gap and meet the demands of employers both at home and abroad.

Don't miss . . . The auditorium on St Patrick's campus for all your teacher-education and arts questions. Campus tours across all three campuses and information sessions on elite sport opportunities and student life at DCU. There are subject-specific tours and parent information sessions about costs and issues that parents should look out for on the road to third-level education.

More information http://dcu.ie/studentrecruitment/open-day.shtml


When is its open day? Saturday, November 5th, from 10am-4pm.

Life on campus Ireland's largest university, UCD is set on 130 acres. nd can appear daunting at first to new visitors but students soon find their feet as the campus feels like a self contained village with everything you need on campus. The city centre is a 20-minute bus ride away, but there's plenty on campus, with two gyms, an Olympic-size pool, a cinema, radio pod, clubhouse bar, dance studio and custom-built debate chamber. UCD has 83 active student societies – with a total membership of over 47,000, the most popular being the L&H debating society, AgSoc, Science Soc and Drama Soc.

Strengths UCD is Ireland's university of first choice for CAO students: more students put a UCD course at the top of their CAO than any other university in Ireland (8,760 first preferences in 2016). It has a huge range of courses; it is particularly known for its veterinary science, agricultural science, engineering, law and medical programmes. It offers excellent global learning prospects for Irish students: the university has 400 partner universities for student exchange. Almost 20 per cent of undergraduates avail of international study opportunities, the highest of any Irish university.

It is the only Irish university to provide the EU supplement label to students for international recognition of their qualifications. It has exchange programmes with 400 partner universities, and 18 per cent of undergraduates avail of international-study opportunities, the highest of any Irish university.

What's new? From 2017, structural engineering with architecture (previously a separate entry pathway) will now be a degree option with engineering. English with drama will no longer operate as a separate course from next year, English with drama studies will be available through the university's BA joint honours programme as part of a joint honours degree.

Accommodation First-year students are prioritised. In August 2016, UCD opened an additional 354 residences at the newly built UCD Ashfield student accommodation. This brings the total number of residences on campus to 3,164. UCD also plans to build an additional 3,000 student residences over the next five to 10 years, bringing the on-campus population to more than 6,000.

Don't miss . . . There will be more than 100 programme and subject-specific talks taking place in six locations on campus. There will also be an opportunity to find out about the world of UCD: the societies and sports, the facilities and campus, and a chance to pop in to an open rehearsal performance by the UCD Symphony Orchestra. Tours of the campus, student residences, the O'Brien Centre for Science, Health Sciences Centre, Sutherland Law School and the Student Centre will run throughout the day.

More information: ucdopenday.ie


When is its open day? The main open day has taken place already, but information evenings on university life, courses and funding are in Cork (November 8th), Tralee (November 29th), Cork (January 17th) and Kilkenny (March 7th). The popular music open day will be held on November 5th and many other specific programme open days will be held in the coming weeks and months.

Life on campus For its 20,700 students, campus life outside the academic offers much more than long afternoons spent in the main rest (the college canteen). Nearly every undergraduate student has been or is a member of one of the many active clubs and societies on campus, and UCC prides itself on offering a really wide range of both. Along with traditional offerings, students can get involved with powerlifting, motorcycling, ultimate frisbee, hot beverage appreciation and Harry Potter appreciation. With a vibrant city social scene just 10 minutes from campus, UCC students should rarely have a dull moment.

Strengths UCC has just been named Sunday Times University of the Year for the second successive year and the fifth time overall. UCC makes teaching as much a priority as research. While the university has seen a 15 per cent growth in research funding over the past five years, generating the second-highest second highest amount of research income in Ireland per capita of academic staff (about €128,000), it also has the highest number of academic staff holding a qualification in teaching and learning in the State.

The high quality of teaching at UCC is evidenced by the high proportion of graduates with high-class degrees – 70 per cent with firsts or 2:1s, a very low graduate unemployment rate of 4 per cent, and an impressive progression rate from first to second year of 93 per cent.

Accommodation First-year students in UCC are advised to stay in either a university-owned student apartment complex, a privately owned student apartment complex or digs. For the 2016-2017 academic year, all first-years who lived a distance of 45km or more from UCC receive an offer of accommodation.

What's new? The new BSc industrial physics, provided jointly with CIT and with a strong work-place focus, will start in 2017. The degree will combine the study of fundamental physics with practical and modern industrial training and graduates will secure employment in innovative industries in Ireland and abroad. A new science degree stream, biotechnology, will be on offer for science students from second year, through the CK402 biological and chemical sciences entry route through the CAO.

More information ucc.ie/opendays.


When is its open day?

January 14th, 10am-5pm.

Life on campus Life for UL's 13,000 students is concentrated in its modern campus by the river Shannon, five kilometres from the middle of Limerick. There is a multitude of cafes, restaurants and pubs, and the surrounding housing estates are well known for student social life: a party is usually going on somewhere. UL's sports facilities are some of the best in the country. The UL Sport Arena, which is hugely popular with both students and locals, houses Ireland's first Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Munster Rugby has just moved into its new bespoke Club Headquarters on the UL campus and construction has begun on a second pool, including a dive pool, at the Sport Arena. There are more than 70 clubs and societies on campus, with everything from GAA and American football to poker, fashion and drama.

Strengths UL has the highest graduate-employability rate of all of Ireland's universities and institutes of technology. It has the largest work placement programme in Ireland and graduates are18 per cent more likely to be employed after graduation than those of any other Irish higher-education institution. The university offers a wide range of courses across disciplines, particularly in business, health, science and engineering.

A new BA arts degree (LM002) has just been launched – the programme is flexible and wide-ranging, offering 19 subjects in all with 176 possible combinations to degree level. Students will be able to study a combination of subjects – as single honours or joint honours – from across the faculty of arts, humanities and social sciences: from familiar arts subjects such as English, French, German or history, to newer subjects such drama and theatre studies or linguistics with TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Accommodation UL has five on-campus villages with more than 2,400 beds. A certain number of campus rooms are held for first-years (on a first-come first-served basis), but there is also a lot of off-campus options.

Don't miss . . . Susi (Student Universal Support Ireland) will have information about student grants and prospective students can have one-to-one talks with programme directors, lecturers and admissions staff. Parents and guardians can meet the author of a new guide written to give them an understanding of the higher-education system and to help them support their child in making informed decisions around third-level courses and career choices.

More information: marketingcomms@ul.ie; #StudyAtUL


When is its open day?

Friday, November 25th, and Saturday, November 26th.

Life on campus Maynooth University offers a warm, friendly campus making it an attractive option to those wishing to stay close to Dublin but are put off by the expense. It has a well deserved reputation for being a particularly sociable university – a recent poll of 10,000 third-level students voted Maynooth Ireland's friendliest college.

Along with the students union, there are more than 100 clubs and societies on campus, from archery to golf. Home to 10,000 students, it continues to expand, with new buildings and services, it retains a strong sense of community. The off-campus social scene is limited to a few clubs and pubs in Maynooth town but with everything within walking distance, this has its benefits.

Strengths Maynooth University has consolidated its position as one of the world's top 400 universities in the latest World University Rankings, published by Times Higher Education). The rankings place Maynooth in the 351-400 band (between 350th and 400th). The university has gained a reputation for teacher training, from preschool to adult and community education. It has also built an international reputation for research and teaching across computer science, electronic engineering, business and law.

What's new? First-year students at Maynooth University can avail of its new first-year courses in critical skills. Maynooth also offers an enhanced undergraduate experience by broadening the entry routes to many of its courses. The first-year critical skills courses will be on offer as a 15 credit option. Students can choose to take a critical-skills course as one of their credit-bearing courses in first year. it involves small group sessions every week, which gives students an opportunity to develop and practice these essential skills right from the outset.

Accommodation Due to a lack of affordable accommodation in Dublin, Maynooth is increasing in popularity among young professionals willing to commute. Campus accommodation is the preferred option for first-years, with half of campus accommodation reserved for first-years on a first-come first-served basis.

Don't miss . . . A series of lectures on subjects from psychology to primary teaching to careers and subject choice in the John Hume building. Talk to lecturers in the Iontas building to discuss your preferred course and meet current students to find out what life in Maynooth University is really like.

More information: maynoothuniversity.ie


When is open day? April 1st, 9am-3pm.

Life on campus Galway really is a university city – the campus is in the heart of the city centre, with all amenities on your doorstep and within walking distance. It is a vibrant place, with a year-long programme of cultural and sporting festivals. Students make up 20 per cent of the population in Galway. On campus, there are 50 sports clubs, including an off the couch recreational programme for students who want to maintain a healthy body and mind. There are 115 societies, with almost every interest catered for, with everything from Amnesty Society to Zen Society.

New for 2016-17 is the African-American Society. NUI Galway is also leading the way nationally with an extensive volunteering scheme to help students enrich their personal development and employability while contributing to the wider community.

Strengths NUI Galway is internationally recognised for its excellence. It is in the top 2 per cent of universities in the world and is the only Irish university consistently moving up the THE and QS Rankings, ranking 249 in the world in QS World University league table. NUI Galway is renowned for a number of undergraduate areas, including biomedical and marine science, creative writing, theatre and performance, maths and education and podiatric medicine.

It is in the final stages of a €400 million capital investment in Ireland’s largest school of engineering, a new building for biomedical science research, which opened last year. Two new buildings, a centre for drama and theatre and a state-of-the-art facility for human biology, are due for completion soon.

What's new New programmes include a BSc (applied social sciences), a BA in children's studies and a BComm (global experience). These programmes all include work placements. Shannon College of Hotel Management is also now a college of NUI Galway.

Accommodation NUI Galway is beginning construction on new student residences which will add 429 student beds on campus in 2018. An additional 470 beds are planned for completion by 2020.

Don't miss . . . Talks, tours and taster sessions to give a real insight into courses and university life. There is an interactive engineering and IT zone, a real opportunity for hands-on experience of the degrees on offer. There will be a science experience workshop with interactive demonstrations, and an acting workshop will give prospective students a taste of what to expect when studying a degree in drama or theatre. The parents talk – giving all the essential information on fees, funding and support services.

More information: niamh.connolly@nuigalway.ie