Selection of open days in universities around the country

When is open day? What will it look like? Key information about 2020-2021 open days

While university campuses have been closed down and the public cannot gather in any significant numbers for the foreseeable future, third-level institutions are using virtual platforms to give prospective students a taste of the lifestyle and study opportunities they offer.

The following is a taste of some open days to look out for in Ireland’s universities:

Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI)

When? January 5th 2021

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Register at: rcsi.com

What will open day look like? RCSI will deliver a virtual open day, where students will learn about studying medicine, pharmacy or physiotherapy as well as insights into a career in these professional areas. Students will learn everything they need to know about university life, how to choose the course that is right for them and how to make the most of their university journey. Teams from the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy will deliver online sessions, which will include an academic overview of the programme, practical information about the hands-on side of the courses (labs, anatomy, etc) and information about career possibilities.

Current students will deliver a number of sessions throughout the day, which will include information about RCSI clubs and societies, as well as the other social aspects that students have the opportunity to experience. Students will also deliver a live Q&A session to give a first-hand account of what life is like at RCSI.

Strengths: The college is Ireland's only specialist health sciences university and the only Surgical Royal College in the world to offer undergraduate degrees and graduate-entry programmes in medicine, pharmacy and physiotherapy.

For the last five years, RCSI has maintained its position among the top 250 universities worldwide according to Times Higher Education (THE).

In terms of societal and global impact in health, the college is ranked number one in the world by THE, on the basis of the college open day's contribution to Sustainable Development Goal number three: Good health and wellbeing.

The college’s simulation centre – Europe’s largest – contains a virtual hospital, with wards, outpatients’ clinics, birthing suite and a full operating theatre and trauma facility.

Accommodation: RCSI's on-campus accommodation includes Mercer, Millin, New Mill and Scape accommodation. All rooms are en-suite and have a kitchen and living area, which students share with their housemates. Typically, a kitchen/living area is shared between six students, but this can vary, depending on the type of accommodation, for example studio apartments have their own kitchen/living area.

What's new: Late last year, the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) became the ninth university in the State after being formally authorised to use the title of "university" for the first time in 235 years.

Don't miss: Prospective students should make sure they attend the virtual campus tour and Q&A sessions with current students.

University College Cork (UCC)

When?

Virtual undergraduate open days: December 4th and 5th, 10am-4pm.

Virtual postgraduate expo: February 24th, 2021.

Register at: ucc.ie

What will open days look like: With more than 22,000 students UCC has much to offer. The college is planning a series of virtual open days to give prospective students and their families an impression of what the university is about. They'll be able to watch presentations and information videos from their chosen subject area and student life sections. Downloadable programmes and leaflets will be available and prospective students will be able to take a virtual tour of campus and view some of the university's facilities.

A web-chat will be one of the key features where attendees can talk with academic and professional services staff about subjects and supports, as well as talking to current students about life at UCC. The college has more than 100 societies and 50 sports clubs and they will also be represented on the day.

Strengths: UCC is ranked in the top 50 of the Times Higher Education Europe Teaching Rankings 2019. The university prides itself on access and participation: In 2019-2020 more than 23 per cent of undergraduate admissions were through Access Admission routes. It is ranked as the ninth most sustainable university in the world and the most sustainable university in Ireland by the UI GreenMetric World University Rankings 2019. UCC is also ranked number 32 in the world as one of the leading universities internationally working towards creating a sustainable world by Times Higher Education. This is the only global performance table that assesses universities against the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

Accommodation: UCC has five purpose-built student apartment complexes run by UCC Campus Accommodation, all situated within walking distance of the main campus.

What's new: UCC's state-of-the-art student hub opened its doors on January 6th last. It is home to a range of student activities, learning and teaching spaces and facilities including student clubs and societies, academic services, career services, disability support services and more.

Don't miss: Upcoming talks and workshops. Keep an eye on ucc.ie for updates on talks for parents, prospective students and live Q&A sessions.

Maynooth University

When?

November 27th and 28th, 2020.

April 24th and June 26th, 2021.

Register at: maynoothuniversity.ie

What will open days look like: As with other colleges, Maynooth University's open days will be in a virtual format this year. They will offer prospective students a comprehensive overview of student life at Maynooth University, all you want to know about courses and programmes, clubs and societies, sport scholarships and other extracurricular aspects of college life.

Strengths: Some 13,500 students attend the university, which comprises a blend of 18th century buildings set against modern facilities. The Maynooth education flexible curriculum allows most students four weeks to decide on their subjects at the beginning of first year. The arts degree (MH101) is the most popular degree in the Central Applications Office (CAO) with the highest number of first preference applications. A €57 million academic building is due for completion in 2021 while construction on a student centre is due to begin shortly.

Accommodation : Maynooth has about 1,200 rooms on campus.

What's new: A new full-time degree in early-childhood teaching and learning will be offered from September 2021. This is in addition to the existing part-time programme. There is a new student platform which provides opportunities for prospective students to chat with current students called MU Chat with our Students. This complements the university's web-chat portal which allows members of the public to ask any admissions-related questions as well as other student support queries.

Don't miss: The opportunity on November 28th to view more than 100 course and student support presentations and ask questions to more than 100 lecturers and other staff from across the university on academic and student life.

Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin)

When?

December 4th and 5th.

Register at: tudublin.ie

What will open days look like: TU Dublin has launched a CAO hub with information available about TU Dublin campuses, courses and life at the university. Students will be able to listen to programme-related talks, hear about the services and supports available at TU Dublin and get career advice from experts in a range of fields from business, engineering, the arts and sciences. Students can visit whenever suits them.

When attending the open-day events, TU Dublin advises prospective applicants to ask lots of questions. This year students can submit their questions via an online chat function and they will receive an answer from student and staff representatives. According to TU Dublin, students who thoroughly research their options and ask lots of questions are the happiest with their choice and most likely to succeed in the long term.

Strengths: TU Dublin has more than 29,500 registered students based across three main campuses in Dublin city, Blanchardstown and Tallaght. Courses range from apprenticeship to PhD in a variety of disciplines, including the creative arts, engineering, sciences, business, health, technology, built environment and computing.

About 40 per cent of teaching in TU Dublin takes place in practice-based settings, whether that’s in studios, kitchens, workshops or laboratories, so students have the opportunity to put theory into action and to work in small class groups on projects, often with industry or community partners.

Accommodation: TU Dublin does not have on-campus accommodation but works with a range of housing providers so students can choose a style of living or location that suits them best.

What's new: In September 2021, TU Dublin is introducing a new honours bachelor of science in sustainable timber technology (TU838) equipping students for positions in the forest product sector, which Enterprise Ireland predicts will grow from 12,000 to 20,000 people in the next 10 years.

Don't Miss: Open days on Friday, December 4th and Saturday, December 5th.

Dublin City University (DCU)

When?

November 20th and 21st, 2020.

Spring open day: April 17th, 2021.

Transition-year students only on April 27th, 2021.

Register at: dcu.ie

What will open days look like: Students will be able to familiarise themselves with the campus by taking virtual tours of DCU's facilities. Open days will feature panel discussions on what life will look like for students during the pandemic and prospective students will also be able to participate in interactive sessions. Detailed information will be available on courses ranging from content to choices within degrees. DCU students will be on-hand to give their perspective and advice about college life. Open days will also feature information sessions on scholarships (academic and sports) and widening entry pathways (Hear, Dare, QQI). Parents and guardians are being catered for with guidance on how they should approach their son or daughter's path to third-level education. Prospective students will also hear how they can get involved with DCU's clubs and societies as well as how best to transition into university life.

Strengths: DCU is ranked 19th in the world and first in Ireland for its graduate employment rate by the 2020 QS Graduate Employability rankings. DCU's mentorship programme gives students an opportunity to be mentored by an industry professional. The university was named Student Sport Ireland's sports college of the year 2020 for the second year in a row. The school of biotechnology features a newly-equipped bioprocessing plant to fuel new biotech innovations in food, agrifood and drug production.

Accommodation: DCU has purpose-built residences over three campuses, providing more than 1,400 rooms for students. For the current academic year, DCU is offering its students flexible on-campus accommodation arrangements. Applications for entry in 2021 will open in February.

What's new: Bachelor and master of engineering in sustainable systems and energy. Two new general entry pathways to biological sciences and chemical sciences will give students an opportunity to study different areas of either biology or chemistry to see which field inspires individual students most before progressing to second year. Bachelor of science in psychology and mathematics is the first course in Ireland to integrate these subjects for students interested in a career that combines the interpretation of human behaviour with high-level numeracy, analytical and problem-solving skills.

Don't miss: A first-year panel discussion on what it is like being a DCU student during a pandemic. The #ForYou app developed by DCU available on Google Play Store and Apple's app store.

University College Dublin (UCD)

When?

Saturday, November 14th, 10am-4pm.

Register at: ucdopenday.ie

What will open days look like: There will be a full schedule of programme and subject talks taking place in eight virtual venues. Learn more about the courses you are interested in, talk to academics and ask questions at live Q&A sessions. Visitors will be able to chat to student advisers and take a virtual tour of the main Belfield campus guided by student ambassadors. There will also be opportunities to find out about the world of UCD – societies, sport, facilities and campus – at their virtual stands in the exhibition hall.

Strengths: Located just 4km south of Dublin city centre, UCD is set in a modern parkland campus with world-class teaching and student facilities, a state-of-the art student centre and over 8km of woodland walkways. UCD has been ranked the number-one university in Ireland for graduate employability for three consecutive years by the QS World University Rankings. UCD is also 75th in the world in this same ranking. UCD has four subjects ranked within the top 50 QS World University Subject Rankings: veterinary science (32nd), sports-related subjects (32nd), library and information management (42nd) and agriculture and forestry (47th). UCD has 13 subjects in the top 100, including those listed above and also: anatomy and physiology, archaeology, English language and literature, geography, history, law, nursing, politics and international studies, and social policy and administration.

Accommodation: UCD will have an additional 924 new residences for students ready for occupation from January 2021. First-year students are prioritised. This will bring the total number of residences on campus to 4,088.

What's new: UCD has introduced two unique courses relating to sustainability: environmental science and engineering, and social sciences, policy and law. Three new courses have also been introduced in humanities: European studies, global studies and Irish studies.

Don't miss: UCD has almost 60 official sports clubs, excellent facilities and a huge range of fitness classes on offer. There are more than 90 active student societies in UCD from jazz and comedy to science, travel and religion.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

When?

Saturday, November 7th, 10am-6pm

Register at: tcd.ie

What will open day look like?

Students, parents, guardians and guidance counsellors are all welcome to attend Trinity’s virtual undergraduate open day. They can expect presentations on a range of undergraduate courses, presentations on student experience, engagement with staff and students through real-time Q&A sessions, virtual tours of the campus, libraries and buildings and more.

Strengths: Trinity College Dublin is Ireland's highest-ranked university in the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings. It has a global reputation for excellence in teaching, research and innovation. At Trinity College Dublin students will have the opportunity to develop expertise in their chosen area but are also encouraged to broaden their experience and perspective beyond their selected core subjects. Trinity promotes the four Trinity graduate attributes in its students. They are: to think independently; to communicate effectively; to develop continuously; and to act responsibly.

Accommodation: Trinity provides accommodation to students with new entrants predominantly accommodated at Trinity Hall in Dartry near Rathmines, about 4km from the city-centre campus. Trinity Hall is easily accessible from the college by bus and the Luas. There are more than 1,000 residential rooms at Trinity Hall and a significant number are reserved for new entrants to the university. Find out more at: tcd.ie/accommodation tcd.ie/accommodation.What's new: New programmes this year include environmental science and engineering (TR064) and two new joint honours offerings – linguistics and social policy – as well as many new Trinity joint honours combinations. TCD has also launched the E3 initiative, representing engineering, environment and emerging technologies. It is a radically new type of collaboration between the schools of computer science and statistics, engineering and of natural science. it sets out to put the finite nature of our natural resources firmly at the forefront of Irish third-level education. Find out more at: tcd.ie/e3

Don't miss: Video presentations of courses and student experience. Students are advised to take the opportunity to speak to TCD academics and current students during the open day.

National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway/OÉ Gaillimh)

When?

The college hosted an open day in October but prospective students can still access material online at nuigalway.ie/cao. Another event is planned for April (date TBC).

See: nuigalway.ie/cao

Online information: The university has collated information on its open days website that any prospective student would need to gain an understanding of university life.

Strengths: NUI Galway was founded in 1845 and prides itself on being a research-led university. Located on the edge of Europe, the university is at the heart of a distinct and vibrant region, renowned for its unique culture, language, creative industries, medical technologies, marine ecology and economy, and more.

To help new students settle into university life and to discover the experiences and services that are open to them, NUI Galway has designed a schedule of virtual events and activities for the first four weeks of college. With a different theme each week, the schedules offer students their first taste of university life. Themes include getting started, well-being, skills week and getting active.

The university prides itself on being a bilingual institution. Tá tiomantas ar leith ag OÉ Gaillimh don Ghaeilge. Tá ról tábhachtach ag an ollscoil le hoideachas triú-leibhéal a chur ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge. Breis eolais: nuigalway.ie/gaeilgebheo nuigalway.ie/gaeilgebheo/Accommodation: NUI Galway has two on-campus student residences, Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village, offering more than 1,200 student places.

What's new: NUI Galway is offering a new degree in agricultural science in 2021. Further developments include a new programme focusing on media and communications and its application globally and two new subjects in the flagship joint honours arts degree (GY101): global media and visual arts.

Don't miss: NUI Galway is organising CAO Virtual Information Evenings on the following dates

* 12 Nov: Business and Law, including Shannon College

* 19 Nov: Science and Engineering

* 26 Nov: Arts at NUI Galway, including St Angela’s Sligo

* 3 Dec: Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, including St Angela’s

University of Limerick (UL)

When?

16th January.

Register at: ul.ie

UL held a series of virtual talks across all faculties where prospective students were provided with key information about each of the university’s courses. The university has collated information on its open days website that any prospective student would need to gain an understanding of university life. It features student blogs, information on sports, co-operative education, scholarships, alternative entry routes and more.

Strengths: The university's First Seven Weeks programme is designed to support students during the early weeks of term, particularly first years and new starters. Recognising that successful early adjustment is linked to subsequent success, the programme helps people find their feet and settle into life at UL.

Accommodation: There are 2,800 rooms across seven residential villages at University of Limerick.

* A list of open day dates is available on the student resource qualifax.ie and on careersportal.ie.

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí is an Irish Times journalist and editor of the Irish Times Student Hub