This article outlines the wealth of facilities available in Ireland’s university campuses…
Ireland’s universities offer a wide range of modern facilities to their students. These include state of the art lecture halls, libraries, laboratories and IT services to ensure that students are provided with an environment in which they can learn, both successfully and comfortably. Universities also have sporting, social, religious, crèche and health amenities to ensure that time spent at third level is a fully rounded experience.
The last few years have seen massive investment in facilities at many of Ireland’s third level institutions. Universities have benefited both from government funding and from the gifts of private businessmen or alumni giving something back to their old place of study. New facilities include study, social and cultural buildings. Examples of shiny new facilities built over the last few years include the new Ussher library in Trinity, the Lewis Glucksman Gallery at UCC, the Helix arts venue in DCU and the Quinn Business School in UCD.
Classroom and lecture hall facilities are obviously very important. At Irish universities, these range from huge theatre style rooms with tiered seating for nearly a thousand students, to smaller, more basic rooms which are fairly similar to your average post-primary school classroom. Blackboards are still important but, these days, lecturers employ a wide range of IT, audio-visual and presentation technology.
Library facilities are very important to students and staff at a university. Modern university libraries house much more than books and photocopiers, with web terminals or wireless internet access, DVD and video viewing spaces, online study resources and private group study rooms all available. Most third level students spend a lot of time at the library, and Irish universities aim to provide a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere with enough space for students to study at their ease.
Students taking some courses (e.g. science, engineering etc.) will probably spend as much time in the laboratory as in a lecture hall or the library. Irish laboratories are relatively high tech, with equipment far more advanced than plastic beakers and Bunsen burners. For example, the Radiation Physics and Radiocarbon Research laboratory at UCD is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for high-resolution alpha spectrometry, low-level beta spectrometry, and high-resolution gamma and x-ray spectrometry. If you are thinking of studying a certain science or engineering-related subject, then a well-equipped university laboratory is a must.
Irish universities have developed dedicated facilities for different subjects. For example, sports science students at UL can use the ‘University Arena’, which houses the National Strength and Conditioning Centre and the Cardio-Fitness Centre; IT students at NUIG have the use of the Irish Centre for High End Computing, and the Music Technology Laboratory at NUI Maynooth is a centre of study and research in Sonic Arts and Computer Music. Students studying architecture, medicine, veterinary, language, or other subjects also have their own facility requirements, which are catered for by the universities offering the courses.
All university students need computer facilities and all Irish universities have dedicated computer labs where students can work. Projects and essays must be typed up and printed out, and around deadline dates the computer labs tend to fill up. Some universities now recommend students buy their own laptops, but not everyone is in a position to do this. High-speed Internet access is now standard at Irish universities, with some offering wireless access at places around the campus and in the student residences.
We shouldn’t forget the non-course related facilities at Irish universities, which are very important for the student to consider. All Irish universities offer sports, social, health, crèche and religious services to their students.
Irish universities take sports very seriously, with many offering scholarships and incentives to attract leading athletes. Each university boasts a mixture of outdoor playing fields, indoor courts, gyms, and tracks and field facilities for athletics. Students compete at university level in gaelic football, hurling, soccer, rugby, basketball, tennis, hockey, athletics and other sports. Saunas, climbing walls, aerobics, yoga, swimming, squash facilities and basically everything barring an egg-and-spoon racing course are also part of the sports centres at most universities.
While the social side of university life is often a big attraction for students, Irish universities have always been very aware of their responsibility to develop and promote Irish art and culture. Social and cultural facilities available at different Irish universities include student bars and cafes, theatres, exhibition spaces - and there is even an opera house at the University of Limerick. All universities have restaurants and canteens that offer food and meals at relatively low prices.
University staff understand that students need help from time to time and that everybody’s personal circumstances are different. Irish universities are kitted out to help students with health, counselling and crèche facilities. Many have a doctor or nurse on call at the campus medical centre, and all have professionals who can help when students run into personal problems or are having trouble with their studies. Crèche facilities for students are a relatively new but very welcome addition to Irish university campuses. Irish university campuses also have religious or inter-faith centres where students can practice their faiths or just get a bit of peace and quiet.
All Irish universities offer purpose-built student accommodation on or near the campus. There has been a building boom lately, with lots of modern and comfortable student housing being built. Expect even more accommodation to be provided in the future, as there still isn’t enough to go round.
Ireland’s universities provide a huge range of facilities to look after their students during their third level education experience. All aspects of student life are catered for on university campuses, as authorities are aware of their responsibilities to provide both a full-rounded education and life/study balance for their students.