What is the Access Programmes approach?

In providing for students who for a variety of financial or social reasons are unable to access third level education, the University sees provision of Access [granting direct Access by targeted groups] as a key approach to equipping all non-traditional students for entry to third-level studies. The activities managed by the Access Office include Access Courses for School-Leavers and Mature Students and UNI 4U and University Trail. 

These approaches enable the University to target effectively the most disadvantaged in the region, to work with all schools, to offer educationally sound preparation for entry into our own University programmes and to remain conscious of the sensitive to special concerns of rural and gaeltacht community.  NUI Galway Access Programmes are devised to advance the social, economic, educational and cultural needs of the Border, Midland and Western Region and County Clare.

How Do I Apply?

To apply for the Access Programme for School Leavers - apply online at this webpage www.nuigalway.ie/access/school-leavers 
To apply for the Access Programme for Mature Students - visit this webpage www.nuigalway.ie/access/mature-students 

Further Enquiries to: access@nuigalway.ie

What is the Access Course ?

The Access Course is a 1 year full-time/part-time daytime/evening course that aims to provide mature students, aged 23 or over and school leavers aged 22 or under, with the opportunity to prepare, personally and academically, for an undergraduate course of full-time study of at least three years duration at NUI, Galway. The course is designed to meet the learning needs of the adult student; to provide individual attention and assistance where appropriate.

Who is the Access Course intended for?

The Access Course is designed specifically for people who may not have the conventional educational requirements and/or who come from socio-economic backgrounds that are under represented at third level. The aims of the course is to enable students to acquire the skills, knowledge and confidence to compete on an equal footing with those students who enter NUI Galway through the conventional entry channels. 

What are the course objectives?

  • To expose Access students to introductory 'taster' courses at University level which will relate to their interests and their future subject choices which will enable them to make subject choices which are related to their ability.
  • To ensure that the abilities of Access students are recognised and appropriate supports are given to them within the programme
  • To ensure that Access students acquire the necessary writing and study skills which will enable them to maximise their full academic potential at NUI Galway
  • To create an understanding amongst Access students regarding the skills and discipline necessary to manage time at University
  • To ensure that Access students have a working knowledge of Information Technology

How is the course organised?

It is a 20 week full-time or part-time course over a full academic year, normally September - May.

Currently there are programmes running at the following Access centres:

  1. Galway (Campus, NUI Galway)
  2. Ballinsloe
  3. An Ceathrú Rua (Outreach bi-lingual programme)
  4. Sligo (St. Angela’s College, Lough Gill)

What are the subjects?

Course Content:  The course content consists of two supporting elements: core subjects and academic options.

Core subjects include Study Skills, Applied Writing, Information Technology, and Educational Guidance.

Academic Options: provide students with introductory university courses as a prelude to continuing their studies to a higher level. Students generally study four options (two per semester) from the following subjects *:

  • College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies: Philosophy, Sociology, History, Irish, English, Mathematics, Geography
  • College of Science: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  • College of Engineering & Informatics: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  • College of Business, Public Policy and Law: Economics/Accountancy, Mathematics


The criteria for successful completion of the Access Course involve satisfactory attendance and performance in all elements of the programme, which include written / oral assignments and essays. Students’ academic progress is measured through a process of continuous assessment - written and oral - as well as end of term examinations.


Participants who successfully complete the Access Course will receive a Diploma in Foundation Studies from NUI Galway, and will be eligible to apply for direct entry (via the CAO) to full-time University degree courses* in the faculties of College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies; College of Science; College of Engineering & Informatics; College of Business, Public Policy and Law: (* in certain instances, interviews with the Department / College Head may also be required).


Course costs for those selected are borne by the University, contingent upon funding.
Further Enquiries to: access@nuigalway.ie

How Do I Apply?

To apply for the Access Programme for School Leavers - apply online at this webpage www.nuigalway.ie/access/school-leavers To apply for the Access Programme for Mature Students - visit this webpage www.nuigalway.ie/access/mature-students
Further Enquiries to: access@nuigalway.ie

Office Details

Aras Ui Chathail
  • Email: access@nuigalway.ie
  • Opening Times: 9.30 am to 4:30pm,  Monday to Friday Phone: 091-493553
  • First Floor Áras Ui Chathail, South Campus, NUI Galway
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