Your go-to guide to open days

What should you know about our third-level colleges? What is life on campus like? And what can you find out at open days?


When: November 8th, 10am-4pm Life on campus: Ireland's largest university, with more than 30,000 students, UCD has in recent years opened a new student centre, which includes a 50m swimming pool, a 3D cinema, two gyms and extensive student facilities. There are more than 150 clubs and societies to choose from. UCD was the first college to allow students to choose study areas outside their chosen discipline. It has partnerships with leading universities from around the globe. There are more than 6,000 international students at UCD, while more than a fifth of the student population study in partner universities across Europe, North and South America, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore. The 133-hectare Belfield campus can be daunting: there's not really a unifying aesthetic and it's a bit of a concrete jungle. That said, there are some nice leafy parts.

Academic strengths:UCD has a variety of courses, but it's particularly known for computer science, agriculture, veterinary medicine and engineering. UCD is considered Ireland's most connected and networked university, with more Irish LinkedIn members educated at UCD than any other university.

What's new: The Sutherland School of Law, the UCD O'Brien Centre for Science and the new student centre. New student residences will be available from January 2015.


Don't miss: Guidance counsellor and Irish Times columnist Brian Mooney's open-day talks, Helping Your Son or Daughter Make a Course Choice, at 11am and 12.30pm in the William Jefferson Clinton Auditorium. There are also campus tours, led by UCD student ambassadors, throughout the day. The exhibition area in O'Reilly Hall will host more than 70 school and programme stands.

For more information, see, email or phone 01-7161507


When: November 14th (10am-3pm), November 15th (10am-2pm)

Life on campus: DCU has about 12,000 students at its redbrick campus in north Dublin. Work experience and internships are a central and hugely useful part of DCU's courses. The Helix is a major venue for arts and entertainment, including on-campus balls and parties. Students receive credits for involvement in clubs, societies and student life. DCU is also steadily gaining a reputation as the best college for sports, with many county-level GAA players having studied there in recent years.

Strengths: Steadily gaining a reputation as a particularly innovative university, DCU is ranked among the top 50 young universities worldwide. It is particularly strong on computing, business, technology, journalism and communications, biomedical science and sports science. As part of its Uaneen module, DCU gives credits to students for involvement in extracurricular activities, including clubs, societies, charity work, student media and student politics, and there's a strong emphasis on encouraging students to develop their personal skills as well as their academic qualifications.

Don't miss: DCU's augmented reality app, Welcome to DCU, will give students a better understanding of courses and campus life. A self-guided campus tour is available for Android and iOS.

What's new: A new arts degree comes on stream from 2015, as does a common entry programme for engineering. There will also be a new BSc in Problem Solving and Software Development, designed to produce more graduates to fill a much-needed gap in the well-paid ICT industry. The DCU sports campus, with elite Gaelic games, soccer, rugby and cricket facilities, has been redeveloped and improved.

For more information, see, a dedicated hub for prospective students.


When: December 6th, 9am-3.30pm Life on campus: Trinity has an excellent international reputation for teaching and research, with more than 120 academic courses, including arts, social science, business, science, engineering, dentistry and medicine. Trinity is situated at the heart of Dublin city centre, making it easily accessible and giving students a great choice of eating, drinking, shopping and cultural attractions. But what if you don't want to leave the campus? There are more than 50 sports clubs and 100 student societies to choose from on a beautiful campus that oozes history and charm.

Strengths: Consistently ranked as Ireland's leading university across all international measures, Trinity's place has slipped somewhat in recent years. By a very clear mile, Trinity has the best college library in Ireland, although most of the books are held off-campus, so you may have to wait a few hours for them to arrive.

What's new: In recent years, Trinity has trialled new college-entry routes and opened up the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art. Although the oldest university in Ireland is relatively well established in its traditions, much of the innovation at Trinity is in the form of new research centres.

Don't miss: There are more than 100 presentations and activities at the open day, including mini-lectures about the courses, campus tours, research demonstrations and clinical skills sessions, presentations about club and society life, information on accommodation, and a session for mature students and students with disabilities.

For further details, see admissions/undergraduate or contact the school’s liaison officer at


When: November 28th (9am-4pm) and November 29th (10am-3pm) Life on campus: Formerly known as NUI Maynooth, the name change reflects the university's ambition to make a name for itself internationally. Small and friendly, the campus of 9,000 students and 800 staff is a visual treat: old, beautiful and compact. Maynooth University is situated in Ireland's only university town, and students here create a buzz in the surrounding area. The new library is very popular, boasting a variety of study, hangout and eating areas.

Strengths: Maynooth has a particularly strong reputation for teacher education, being the only university to offer teacher training from preschool right through to adult and community education. The college is also strong in astrophysics, science, maths, humanities and music.

What's new: Quite a lot. A fundamental transformation in the Maynooth curriculum, beginning in September 2015, will eventually mean more course options, flexibility and degree combinations for every student. Students will have opportunities for interesting electives and other creative academic and co-curricular options in subsequent years, which are designed to make them stand out to future employers.Visitors to the open day will see the final stages of construction on the new information and communications technology building on the north campus, which will include teaching spaces and serve as a hub for various research centres and institutes.

Don't miss: Degree talks and department stands on the north campus, and tours incorporating labs, sports facilities, the new library, residences, and the beautiful and historic south campus. Partner bus companies will run special services on Saturday's open day for a reduced fare.

For more information, see maynoothuniversity, or @gomaynooth.


When: The main undergraduate open day takes place on April 25th, 2015. Campus tours are available all year round. Information evenings will also be held throughout the country. For more information on dates and times, see opendays.

Life on campus: Galway is a special place to go to college, largely due to the energy unleashed by 17,000 students. The city is creative, intimate, exciting, and has great clubs and pubs. The cost of living is also relatively low compared to other cities. The campus itself, on the banks of the River Corrib, is very impressive. On the downside, it rains quite a lot in Galway, and the nightlife can be a bit repetitive if you're not a drinker.

Strengths: The college scores highly in terms of research and teaching, as well as internationalisation and innovation. Biomedical science, human rights, marine science, and drama, film and theatre studies are among the university's fields of special expertise. The BA Connect includes mainstream humanities subjects, such as languages, philosophy and English, alongside interesting choices, such as journalism, children's studies, creative writing and performing-arts studies.

What's new: There's a lot happening on the Galway campus, with much of it focused on academia and research. The new Hardiman Research Building brings together a number of existing research centres in the humanities and social sciences, while work on the Translational Research Facility, a patient-centred clinical space with high-technology science research, is ongoing. Don't miss: Information sessions on the the range of NUIG scholarships, including the creative arts performance points scholarships, which are unique to the university. There's also a parents' programme during open days for parents to find out more.

For more information, see


When: Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Life on campus: UL was founded in 1972 and now has about 12,000 students. Last month, UL was announced as the Sunday Times University of the Year for 2015, with the judges citing strong research commercialisation, dedication to the student experience and a rising academic performance. The surrounding housing estates are full of students and there's a great social scene both on and off the beautiful campus, which boasts some pretty impressive buildings. But be warned: the university isn't in the city, so getting to and from Limerick can be a bit of a trek.

Strengths: It's always been particularly strong on business, and the suite of programmes is getting better and better. Science is another strength for the university, while the addition of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and some fine art collections has seen increased demand for UL's arts courses. With 95 per cent of UL's class of 2013 in employment or further study, the university has the highest graduate employment rate in the country. If you're into sport, UL has some of the best facilities in Ireland. Finally, UL has the largest Erasmus programme of any third-level institition in Ireland, with one in three students spending a semester working or studying overseas.

What's new: UL has just launched a Bachelor of Technology in aircraft maintenance and operations, in partnership with Lufthansa Technik AG subsidiary, Shannon Aerospace. This is the only university degree of its type in Ireland.

Don't miss: Presentations and demonstrations on all UL's courses, stands on each course, campus accommodation tours and general information on admissions, fees, scholarships, access, careers and work experience.

For more information, see


When: The main open day has already taken place, but another one for schools is on April 17th, 2015. Departmental and programme open days will be held throughout the year. Life on campus: University College Cork is one of Ireland's oldest and best-performing universities, with a consistently high score in international rankings. There's a strong community vibe on the campus, which is only a stone's throw from the excitement and vibrancy of Cork city centre – which, in 2010, Lonely Planet named as one of the 10 best cities in the world to visit. There's a great selection of clubs and societies. And UCC has a high graduate employment rate, so you've a good chance of getting a job at the end of it all.

Strengths: It's strong across all major disciplines, but is particularly known for medicine, dentistry, law, arts, and sciences. Within science, it's strong on microbiology and food science, while the Tyndall National Institute has an internationally renowned reputation for high-end information technology, nanotechnology and medical technology, as well as commercialising research.

What's new: A state-of-the art dedicated student hub to support student learning and employability. The college is also introducing several new programmes, including BA degrees in film and screen media, world languages, and digital humanities and IT.

Don't miss: Alimentary Adventures, a massive, walk-through, bouncy-castle intestine at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre. More fun and less disgusting than it sounds.

For more information, see


When: December 5th and 6th, 9.30am to 2.30pm Life on campus: Arguably more than any other third-level institution in Ireland, Dublin Institute of Technology is undergoing a radical physical, academic and social transformation. This year, students began moving on to DIT's centralised Grangegorman campus in Dublin 7, although the majority of students are still on its campuses around Dublin.DIT is one of Ireland's largest higher-education institutions, with more than 10 per cent of all students.

Strengths: DIT is the place to go for culinary arts, hospitality, optometry and, increasingly, music. BIMM Dublin focuses on modern commercial music and has some impressive tutors who work in the industry, including Conor Adams of Tvvins and Cast of Cheers, and Cathy Davey. It boasts an impressive success rate for students. It's also particularly strong in construction and surveying, where there's a high demand for workers, as well as marketing and electrical engineering.

What's new: The Grangegorman campus. By 2017, 10,000 students will have moved to the new campus, which already includes an all-weather football pitch, tennis courts, a gym, a space for societies and a students' union. The full range of new facilities is expected to be operational by 2015. There's also a new course in games design for those looking to build a career in Ireland's burgeoning games industry, as well as new options in computer science and languages and international tourism (Chinese). A new Academic Writing Centre will provide a free service to students, helping them improve their academic communication skills.

Don't miss: The open day will have representatives from all DIT's programmes, and individual colleges will also hold more site-specific open days in the spring. There will also be displays and stalls run by student societies.

For more information, see

Waterford IT

When: December 9th, 10am-2pm

Life on campus: As Ireland's cities go, Waterford doesn't get a huge amount of attention, but it has a rich history and cultural life, as well as a relatively decent amount of sunshine. That said, Ireland's fifth-largest city can't quite compete in terms of amenities and arts, although students at WIT have managed to create a campus full of craic and energy. Parking on campus can be a nightmare, but the bus service is good, running from college to city every 20 minutes or so. Waterford is also on the doorstep of some beautiful beaches and the Comeragh Mountains.

Strengths: Class sizes are small and students can get a decent amount of individual attention. Despite its small size, the college has carved out strengths in telecoms and technology, particularly in the mobile and digital spheres. What's new: In recent years the college has opened up an impressive sports campus, which includes all-weather pitches and grass training areas.

Don't miss: There will be presentations throughout the day on courses of interest, tours of the main campus, and a chance to learn about WIT student life.

For more information, see schools_open_day1


When: November 21st, 10am-6pm

Life on campus: Somewhat like DIT in Dublin, CIT's campuses are scattered throughout Cork city. There's a clear sense of a young, exciting, creative and imaginative college with aspirations to greatness. The sports facilities are excellent and could legitimately claim to be among the best in the country. The Nexus student centre is a popular spot to hang out in. There's no bar on campus, but the surrounding city has many watering holes that are popular with the student crowd.

Strengths: The college offers humanities, business and science courses, but has developed particular strengths in music and art. Increasingly, the college is gaining ground for its suite of engineering programmes. The National Maritime College of Ireland is also unique to CIT. Courses are designed with the jobs market in mind. What's new: Between November and January, CIT's Engineering, Science and Technology Roadshow will travel around Co Cork to provide students with information on the wide range of possibilities open to them.

Don't miss: The open day will include an extensive range of activities to help students choose the right course for them, including a careers exhibition, a series of information sessions, workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions of student work and laboratory visits to the various departments across CIT's three campuses.

For more information, see


When: There will be six open days and evenings held at different GMIT locations between November 14th, 2014, and April 18th, 2015. For full details, see

Life at GMIT: GMIT was the winner of the Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year award for 2015. Poor neglected Castlebar is often forgotten about, but, along with Galway, it forms a significant part of GMIT's student body. There's also another campus in the village of Letterfrack, set in the glorious wilds of Connemara. The Galway campus, however, is the largest and most active, with a particularly impressive college building. GMIT's 6,500 students, especially those at the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, have played a huge role in forging Galway's reputation as a creative powerhouse. However, while GMIT has buildings where lectures take place, it lacks a main campus as such.

Strengths: Sustainable energy technologies, medical devices and marine and freshwater research are among the specialties that GMIT is developing. The college has a strong graduate employment rate, with just 8 per cent of students looking for a job nine months after leaving GMIT.

What's new: There's a plethora of new degree courses on offer for 2014 and 2015, including business, information systems management, construction economics and quantity surveying, furniture design and manufacture, and energy engineering. Don't miss: The campus of your choice: keep an eye out for the various open-day and evening events at Galway, Letterfrack and Castlebar. The open days will include talks and workshops.

For more information, see