Background of the Youth Academy

Youth Academy, part of Student Recruitment and Outreach at University of Galway, has evolved from a small-scale pilot project in 2012 to one of the most extensive primary school outreach programmes in the West of Ireland. 

The founding of the Youth Academy was a collaboration between  Mary Dempsey (Vice Dean, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, College of Engineering and Informatics), Dr Caroline Heary (School of Psychology), Dr Lorraine McIlrath (Community Knowledge Initiative) in close collaboration with Irish Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI), based in Dublin City University).

A small-scale pilot study was conducted in 2010, in the School of Psychology, University of Galway in cooperation with the CKI and CTYI. This involved delivery of one course (Psychology) by university students to local primary school children. Feedback from University students, children, parents and stakeholders were very positive. The success of the programme and evident demand for similar programmes brought about a proposal to mainstream a suite of courses aimed at primary school children (10 to 13 years of age). The proposed programme would be multi-disciplinary in nature, led by Psychology, Engineering and the CKI but with contributions from other disciplines in the University (e.g Science and Italian). Following the call for innovative ideas, entitled the Bright Ideas Campaign, from the Vice President for Innovation and Performance at University of Galway, the proposal to develop a Youth Academy at University of Galway was successfully awarded funding in January 2012 and 62 students from 4th and 5th classes in primary schools in Galway City took part in a pilot project over six weeks from April-June 2012.

Since 2012, almost 5,000 primary school students have attended over 300 courses delivered by lecturers and PhD students. The breadth of courses offered has grown to reflect the teaching, learning and research expertise across the University. The Youth Academy plays a significant role in the community meeting the demand for discipline-specific programmes aimed at high-ability primary school children and creating opportunities for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend on a scholarship basis. The Youth Academy makes special efforts to work with young people from DEIS schools and those who may not have a history of third-level education in their family. The programme aims to inspire entry into university by introducing children and their families to university life and by creating positive perceptions of the university and its academic programmes.

Youth Academy launch