Applications are now closed for 2020-21 Access Courses

Follow these steps to apply:

1. Gather all financial details as listed in the Application Guidebook - School Leavers 20-21 

2. Choose the location you wish to apply for by clicking on the links below to get access to the online form and set up your account:

  • Galway (Campus, NUI Galway)
  • Ballinasloe (Ballinasloe College of Further Education)
  • An Cheathru Rua (Outreach bi-lingual programme) 
  • Sligo (St Angela's, Lough Gill) 

4. Upload ALL documentation to your online application (financial documentation, ID, eductional qualifications etc)

5. Please remember to complete a copy of the Personal Statement‌ and upload online with your application. This allows you the opportunity to disclose information about your own personal background, disadvantage and the reasons why you wish to do an Access Centre Course etc. As interviews will not be held in 2020, please ensure you complete all sections of this document. (Download here: Personal Statement)

6. Please copy and email the following link (right click on blue text) to your 2 referees to complete a short online report. School Leavers Referees Report 2020

Any queries please contact the Access Programmes Office: As NUIG staff are currently working remotely, in line with Government guidelines, please submit queries by email only: E-mail:

Tel: (091) 493553

What is the Access Course for School leavers?

The Access Course is a 1 year full-time/part-time daytime/evening course that aims to provide students 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 for Higher Education for?

The Access Course for School Leavers is a course specifically designed for students who (are aged 22 or under on year of entry to a degree programme)and have a real desire to study at third level but are unable due to financial or social reasons*. This scheme facilitates school-leavers from all schools in the Border Midlands and West (BMW) region and County Clare. School Leavers who have completed a Leaving Certificate OR completed a QQI Level 5 or Level 6 qualification OR its equivalent can apply. Students should be highly motivated and interested in studying at an undergraduate level in their chosen area.

What kind of Socio-Economic Reasons are considered?

  • Long-term unemployment
  • Low family income
  • Little or no family tradition of progression onto higher education
  • Limited study facilities at home
  • Family stresses (particularly those related to family finance)

This programme is also suitable for students with disabilities, whose background education has been affected by long-term absenteeism due to their illness.

How is the course organised?

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

What are the subjects?

Course Content:

The course content consists of two supporting elements: Core Subjects and Academic Options.

Core subjects:

  • Study Skills
  • Applied Writing
  • Information Technology
  • 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 following faculties:

  • 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:

How do I apply?

** Applications are now closed for 2020-21 Access Courses **

Choose the location you wish to apply for by clicking on the links below to get access to the online form and set up your account:

  • Galway (Campus, NUI Galway) 
  • Ballinasloe (Ballinasloe College of Further Education)
  • An Cheathru Rua (Outreach bi-lingual programme) 
  • Sligo (St Angela's, Lough Gill)

Should I also make an application through the CAO?

All current Leaving Certificate students are strongly advised to make an application for degrees through the CAO.

What standard of Leaving Certificate is required?

The desirable academic requirements for selection are:

  • that you would have received, at least, two H4 grades on higher level papers, and four O6 grades at ordinary or higher level;
  • or equivalent qualification such as a further education course. 
  • In addition, the University will require general details regarding your family's and your own financial circumstances.

Students who have completed a post-leaving certificate course of study are eligible.

The Access Course is also an option for those who completed the Leaving Certificate examination prior to 2020 and who did not gain the points required to enter the National University of Ireland, Galway. The course will run during the academic year 2020/2021 and will be full-time. People who successfully complete and pass the Access Course will be admitted to degree programmes in the Colleges of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies, Business, Public Policy & Law, Science, Engineering & Informatics, and Schools of Nursing & Health Sciences in September 2021.  


  • Mature Students Guide 21

    Mature Students Guide 21 PDF (16MB)

  • Access Diploma Programmes Guide 2020

    Access Diploma Programmes Guide 2020 PDF (16MB)

  • QQI

    QQI PDF (16 MB)