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About University of Galway
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1. Do I have to do an Access course to get into NUI Galway as a full-time student?
This will depend on your individual circumstances, including your age, your educational history, and the course(s) for which you are applying. Mature students and those with a Leaving Certificate (or equivalent) can apply directly to NUI Galway and other higher education institutions through the CAO before February 1st each year. Some degree courses have specific entry requirements; if you do not meet these, it may be possible for you to enter via the Access route.
2. Do I have to have a Leaving Certificate or any other qualifications to apply to the Access course?
This partly depends on whether you are applying to the mature students’ course or the school leavers’ course (see Q6 below). If you are applying to the mature students’ Access programme, no specific qualifications are required. If you are applying to the school leavers’ Access programme it is preferable, but not essential, that you hold aLeaving Certificate/Leaving Certificate Applied, with two C3 grades on higher-level papers and four D3 grades on ordinary or higher-level papers. Any other qualifications held – e.g. FETAC – will usually support your application, regardless of which programme you are applying for.
3. Should I apply to the Access course as a mature student or as a school leaver?
Mature Access Aplicant: aged 23 or over on January 1 of year of application to a degree programme
School Leaver Applicant: aged 22 or under on January 1 of year of application to a degree programme
Please do take care to apply to the correct course as the application forms and procedures are different for these two categories of student.
4. How many places are available?
There are a total of 80 places available on the Access courses for mature students and school leavers in NUI Galway. There are a further 40 places available in Sligo, 30 places available in Ballinasloe and 20 places in Connemara. Unfortunately there is a lot of demand for these places so we cannot offer places to everyone who applies.
5. How much does it cost to do an Access course?
At the moment, the costs of the courses are borne by NUI Galway, contingent upon funding. This means that Access courses are free.
However, there is a cost to complete the part-time Diploma in Foundation Studies (Business), and the part-time Diploma in Foundation Studies (Science, Technology and Engineering). If employed, the cost for the year is €380; if unemployed, the cost is €60.
6. Will there be any financial support available to me if I do an Access course?
Unfortunately there are no specific financial supports available to Access students. Applicants considering commencing an Access course should enquire with the Department of Social Protection to find out if they might be entitled to any payments while attending the course.
7. Will there be financial support available to me if I go on to college?
Depending on your circumstances, there may be financial support available to you as a full-time student in third-level education. Sources of support include the student grant scheme and the Back to Education Allowance. Further information is available from:
Full-time undergraduate students at NUI Galway who experience financial difficulty may also apply to the University’s Financial Aid Fund for assistance. The amount that you receive from this Fund, if any, will depend on a number of factors, including the numbers applying, the amount available in the Fund, and your personal circumstances.
8. I am completing an application for an Access course. What is a P21 and where can I get one?
A P21 is an overview of a person’s income/earnings in a given calendar (tax) year. The Access Office requires a copy of your P21 for the previous calendar (tax) year as part of your application. You can request your P21 from your local Revenue Office. More information is available from Revenue.
9. I am completing an application for an Access course. What is a Notice of Assessment and where can I get this?
If you, your spouse, or your parent(s)/guardian(s) are self-employed, Revenue will issue a Notice of Assessment once they have received your/your spouse’s/your parent(s)’/guardian(s)’ tax return. This document confirms your tax position for the relevant calendar (tax) year. More information is available from Revenue.
10. I am completing an application for an Access course. What is a Copy of Accounts and where can I get this?
If you, your spouse, or your parent(s)/guardian(s) are self-employed, there is an obligation to make an annual return to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) every year. In most cases, financial statements (or accounts) must be annexed to the annual return. You should submit a copy of these accounts for each business and for the relevant year with your application, if applicable. More information is available from the Companies Registration Office.
11. I am completing an application for an Access course. What is Form RP50 and where can I get this?
If you, your spouse, or your parent(s)/guardian(s) have been made redundant, in most cases the claim for a redundancy payment (lump sum) is made by completing and submitting Form RP50 online. Once the claim has been submitted, a copy should be printed and signed by both employer and employee. Further information is available from the Department of Social Protection.
12. If I get a place on an Access course, how many hours a week will I have to attend for and on what days and times?
This depends on which course you are taking. The access courses for mature students and school leavers in Galway are full-time, and you are expected to be on campus from 9 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday, during term time.
Classes on the part-time Ballinasloe , Sligo, Connemara courses take place on two evenings per week, with occasional Saturdays in Galway (approximately one per month).
Classes on the part-time Diploma in Foundation Studies (Science, Technology and Engineering) and the Diploma in Foundation Studies (Business), both based in Galway, also take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and approximately one Saturday per month.
13. What qualification can I get at the end of an Access course and at what level is this qualification?
Successfully completing students who achieve a minimum of 85% attendance will receive a Diploma in Foundation Studies. The Diploma carries 30 ECTS and is aligned with Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). At present, the Diploma is an internal qualification, recognised for the purposes of entry to NUI Galway only. Students cannot use the qualification for entry to other higher education institutes unless by private arrangement.
14. What courses can I go on to do at NUI Galway if I successfully complete the Access course?
Successful completion of the Access course allows entry into a wide range of programmes at NUI Galway, including the Arts, Business, Law, Science, Engineering, Informatics, and Health Sciences. Please note that you must still apply through the CAO for your chosen degree course(s). Entry to some degree courses is guaranteed; entry to others is competitive; and a small number of degree programmes do not accept students on the basis of the successful completion of the Access course.
15. Am I guaranteed entry into my chosen course at NUI Galway if I successfully complete the Access course?
- Depending on the stream/subjects that you take on the Access course, successful completion of the course will guarantee entry into certain degree courses. In general, if you pass all modules (subjects) and achieve a minimum attendance rate of 85%, you are guaranteed entry into undenominated degree courses at NUI Galway (for example, GY101 Bachelor of Arts; GY201 Bachelor of Commerce; GY251 Bachelor of Civil Law; GY301 Bachelor of Science). Students applying for GY401 Undenominated Engineering must achieve at least 60% in Advanced Mathematics.
- In addition, successful students can apply for places on a wide range of other degree courses at NUI Galway. Entry to some of these programmes is competitive, and there may be minimum entry requirements for some courses or modules (e.g. Health Sciences, Engineering courses, certain language courses). Access students receive a lot of advice and information about progression options in the Educational Guidance module over the academic year.
- A small number of degree courses at NUI Galway will not consider applications on the basis of successful completion of an Access course. These include Commerce with Accountancy, Medicine and Global Language Degrees.
- There is 1 place available currently for NUI Galway Mature Access Students in Nursing.
16. Can I apply to other higher education institutes after I have completed the Access course?
You may apply to other higher education institutes when you make your CAO application. It is up to you to find out about the specific entry requirements for other institutes and whether they will consider your Diploma in Foundation Studies for the purposes of entry.
17. What is the difference between DARE, HEAR, and Access courses?
DARE: The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places on reduced points to school leavers under the age of 23 as of 1st January of the year of application who have completed an Irish Leaving Certificate and who have the ability to benefit from and succeed in higher education but who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course due to the impact of a disability.
Application is through CAO at the time of applying to University.
HEAR: The Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places on reduced points and extra college support to school leavers under the age of 23 as of 1st of January of the year of application who have completed an Irish Leaving Certificate and are from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Evidence shows that socio-economic disadvantage can have a negative effect on how well a student does at school and whether they go on to college.
Access courses are open to both school leavers and mature students (see Number 6 above). Applicants do not always need to have completed an Irish Leaving Certificate or meet other entry requirements such as subjects studied or grades or points achieved. While the DARE and HEAR schemes facilitate direct entry into undergraduate courses, the Access courses are year-long pre-undergraduate level courses.
Access courses are particularly suitable for individuals who might find it difficult or impossible to enter higher education and/or would find it difficult to cope with the demands of higher education due to lower skills, knowledge, or confidence. The programmes offer a supportive learning environment where students are equipped and enabled to access and successfully participate in third-level education.