Recent Updates for Staff & Students

Happy New Year | Semester 2, 2022 

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope this finds you and those around you well and that you had a restful break.

We are conscious of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases and wish to provide clarity with regard to plans for the upcoming semester. A similar message in this regard will also issue to students today.

Having consulted with public health officials and colleagues in the higher education sector to determine the best course of action, I am pleased to confirm that all teaching and learning resumes on Monday, January 10th 2022, on the same basis as pertained in semester 1, with precautions and safety measures a priority.

Teaching will therefore proceed as planned locally, with a similar mix of in-person and online provision as delivered in semester 1, recognising that the current rate of transmission of the virus will likely require a high degree of flexibility over the coming weeks.

Guidance on student temporary absences from campus is available here. Staff absences due to Covid-19 will continue to be dealt with in line with the advice from Government and HSE around self-isolating for staff with Covid and close contacts.

Like teaching, research is also deemed ‘essential’ under the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines and will also therefore continue on-campus as in Semester 1.

Ahead of the return, you can find advice on coming back to campus here.

As you know, the HSE vaccine booster programme has been rolled out to all those over 16 years old and more information is available here. We encourage all staff and students to avail of this facility, in the interests of everyone's health.

I also encourage people to join the UniCoV Project, beginning again on January 17th 2022. UniCoV offers free Covid-19 antigen tests and PCR testing. Under the Government-supported testing arrangement, it’s now even easier for you as you can now collect your FREE kits from UniCoV Central in the main campus, and you can also now drop off your samples at several locations on campus.

Finally, feedback from public health colleagues in the region suggests that our continuation of the academic year as outlined is facilitated by the effectiveness of our mitigation measures in semester 1, the high levels of compliance on-campus and the high levels of vaccination in our community. Recognising that we enter a new year and a new semester once more in challenging times for us all, I would like to thank all our colleagues and students who make it so.

Thank you for your continued fortitude and your continued support for our mission as a university community.

I wish you all the very best and every success as we begin a new year together.

Kind regards,

Ciarán

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh

President NUI Galway

 

 

Campus Wayfinding on your Smartphone - 23 Sept 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The University is pleased to launch our new online campus Wayfinding Solution.  Online Campus Wayfinding is a pilot programme that maps over 127,000 sq. meters of indoor space.  It allows you to identify any room, or location in the most popular buildings on campus and to get step-by-step navigation to that location.

Best of all, it is available on your smartphone as part of the NUI Galway mobile app.  You can find a great overview of the online campus wayfinding in this video.

If you haven’t already downloaded the NUI Galway app (for iPhone or Android) you can do so here.  If you have already downloaded the app, you may need to update it to obtain this exciting new functionality.

The campus wayfinding solution is also available on the web (useful for sending directions via email).

The online solution compliments the University’s physical wayfinding, mapping and navigational tools, installed at fixed locations throughout our campus and our printable suite of maps, which are available here.

I would like to thank the Student Project Fund for their assistance in developing this new capability.

Best regards,

John Gill

Chief Operating Officer

 

Welcome back | Fáilte ar ais - All Staff email - 20 Sept 2021

Dear colleagues,

As our first semester is off and running, as restrictions in society ease cautiously today and as we prepare to welcome our first years safely to campus on the 27 September, I wish to take this opportunity to welcome you all back to campus,  after what has been a very challenging time.  I would particularly like to acknowledge the incredible job you have all done in navigating the twists and turns we have faced during this global pandemic.  Let's give each other the time and space to find our way back.

I have recorded a short welcome back video for you, which includes more thoughts on our safe start to the semester, you can watch it here.

Orientation: Next week we will welcome over 3500 new first year students to our campus.  Many of our first years are also transitioning to a new country while others are returning to education and a new direction in life.

The development of the orientation programme which is led by Student Services, has been a collaborative effort with colleagues across the university to create a positive first impression for our new students and the start of what we hope will be enriching journey over the coming years.

Orientation consists of an online programme on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, September 22, 23 and 24 and continues with an on campus experience on Saturday and Sunday September 25 and 26 when students will experience a range of activities including a Health and Wellbeing programme, Societies and Sports activities, 140 campus tours and opportunities to engage with support services.  This requires a significant number of both staff and student ambassadors and we would like to encourage any staff interested in supporting orientation and our new first year students on Saturday September 25, to complete the form here.

The full orientation schedules (online and on campus) are available on the college websites.

College of Arts Social Sciences and Celtic Studies

College of Science and Engineering

College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences

College of Business Public Policy and Law

UniCov:  In order to maintain our progress, we are participating in an important new COVID-19 testing research study, UniCoV.  For this to be a success we need as many students and staff to take part as possible, even if fully vaccinated.  Please sign up for the study here

Vaccination:  As of 16 September, the High Level Task Force on Covid-19 vaccination reported that 93%  of adults and 83% of the 16-29 age group, are fully vaccinated. The vaccination programme is critical to keeping us all safe from COVID-19 and if you have not already availed of your free vaccine, you can do so here I would also like to draw your attention to our new and updated Covid-19 Incident Response Plan which may be of interest to you as we continue to navigate the challenges of Covid-19.

Biodiversity at the Gates:  At one of the last all-staff meetings before Covid, the excellent suggestion was made that we should foster and let flourish a biodiversity garden, for example, at the Newcastle Road gate, opposite the James Hardiman Library. In our absence, with thanks to our colleagues in Buildings & Estates, it is there now as a resource for nature but also as a metaphor for much else. There is growth and renewal there, there is diversity, and there is colour. It is fitting that this has blossomed at our gate, gates that never closed during Covid, in a place that also represents what we offer to our society and our community.  

As a diverse community, we have demonstrated our extraordinary resilience, strength and determination as a university.    We look forward with confidence and caution to the year ahead.

Stay safe and well,

Ciarán

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh

President NUI Galway

Welcome Back - All Student email - 10 Sept 2021

Our Autumn semester is off and running and I want to extend a warm welcome back to you after what has been a very challenging time. Our whole university community has worked hard to ensure that we are ready to meet the challenges of the year ahead and I believe that we have had a very successful first week back. 

I have recorded a short welcome back video for you, which includes more thoughts on the safe start of our semester. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwgYky1XAQo

Vaccinations: The vaccination programme is critical to keeping us all safer from COVID-19. We thank all our students who have taken up the offer of a vaccine so far and urge all others eligible who haven’t yet done so to do so now. If you have not already availed of your free vaccine, you can register here

UniCov: In order to maintain our progress, we are participating in an important new COVID-19 testing research study, UniCoV.  For this to be a success we need as many students and staff to take part as possible, even if fully vaccinated.  Please sign up for the study here

Study Space: As part of our approach to help you to stay safe, the Bailey Allen Hall will open as a noisy study space from next Monday 13th September using the Library Booking System. 

PCs: In addition to PCs available for use in the Library, a number of PC Suites are available for ad-hoc access by students in supervised time-slots.  Further details are available here

At all times, please comply with public health advice with regard to cough etiquette, handwashing and social distancing.  

Stay safe and well, 

Ciarán. 

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh 

President, NUI Galway

 

COVID-19: Planning for the Semester ahead - Aug 2021

As we continue to plan and prepare for the return to teaching and learning in September, we want to keep our university community updated on how those plans are progressing. We know that many students and staff are anxious to return to campus – and anxious about our return and we are keen to keep you updated in that regard as plans progress. As throughout the Covid crisis, the health and wellbeing of our university community remains the priority throughout our planning. As always, our decisions are guided by Government policy and public health recommendations.  

Our university is committed to, together, maximising and optimising the on-campus experience for students in the next academic year and we will do this in line with the sectoral approach to returning to campus activity, as outlined by the IUA, THEA and the RCSI earlier this week. You can read more about the agreed whole-of-sector approach to ‘Implementing a Safe Return to Campus’ here

This coordinated approach, which has the support of government and endorsement of public health authorities, is centred on the desire of students to get back on campus and is facilitated by the classification of higher education as an essential service and the expectation that the vast majority of adults, including students, will have been vaccinated by September.   

Jump to:

Semester 1 Start Dates & Orientation 

Start dates for the next academic year are as follows:  

  • Start date for First Year undergraduate students: Monday, 27 September 2021. This delay is required to allow time to process CAO applications in light of the revised timetable for issuing Leaving Certificate results.  
  • Start date for all other students: Monday, 6 September 2021  
  • Online Orientation for new students: 22, 23 & 24 September 2021  
  • On-Campus Orientation for new students: 25 & 26 September 2021  
  • Postgraduate Research Student Orientation will take place virtually at 2pm on 1 September 2021 – more info   


Returning to Work on Campus 

As we are now planning for an expected return to a fuller on-campus experience for students and staff for the start of the 2021-22 academic year, we wish to update staff on our approach to returning to work on campus so that you can have time to plan and discuss your return to campus with your Line Manager/Head of School.   

Over the last 16 months, we have seen some positive aspects of remote working and we will continue to work on a Remote Working Policy for staff to be able to consider and avail of in due course. In the meantime, it is important that we plan for a return to campus, in line with the Public Health measures advised to us. During the initial return to campus, we will likely see a hybrid working model with some days on campus and some days of remote working. In many cases it will be possible to continue with these plans without adversely impacting the vibrant campus experience of students, Colleges, and staff or the efficiency and effectiveness of our services.

However, there are some activities that cannot be delivered satisfactorily remotely, including in-class teaching and learning, lab-based activities, experimental research, and professional staff activities that require a physical interaction, among others. We expect that we will return to having as much face-to-face interaction with students, once it is safe to do so, as we had prior to March 2020.   
In planning for the return to campus, Line Managers/Heads of School will be engaging with their teams regarding the on-campus requirements. Where a hybrid working arrangement is agreed (pending the approval of our Remote Working Policy), employees and Line Managers/Heads of School should identify and agree which activities can be performed remotely and which cannot.

Where a staff member is working from off-campus, it is expected they will be available to attend campus if necessary.  We will continue to work on the Remote Working Policy, which will be a policy that will require ongoing review to ensure that it is in line with best practice and take on board ongoing feedback from staff.   

Access to Office Space  
For many staff, we are aiming to facilitate a return to campus workspace from 30 August 2021 onwards. However, this will vary in some buildings. Those who need to return before then should contact their line manager to facilitate this. You will be contacted by your Line Manager/Head of School to advise you of the plans for reopening office space in your area.   
We will continue to comply with the Public Health measures to ensure a safe return to campus, which includes regular cleaning protocols.   

Staff will be required to complete a Return to Campus form at least 3 days before their return to work. Please look out for details of how to access this form in the coming weeks.
Our absence from campus over the past 16 months has had a significant impact on how we work and interact with colleagues. While it will take some time to reopen all office space, we look forward to seeing familiar faces back on campus and the sense of community that brings. Thank you for your patience as we continue to prepare to welcome you back safely to campus.  

Staying Safe  
We all have a part to play in keeping our university community safe. At all times, please continue to comply with the prevailing public health advice, with regard to cough etiquette, handwashing and social distancing.  

  • PPE: As last year, face masks/visors will be available for students to collect on their return to campus. We thank the Students’ Union for their continued support of PPE distribution. Additional staff PPE will be distributed in accordance with the requests made by Schools/Units. 
  • Testing on Campus: We expect that the HSE Covid-19 Testing Centre will reopen on campus when students return in September. We will update our university community on how and when to access this service then.  
  • Student Health Unit: Our colleagues in the Student Health Unit continue to offer medical care to our students by prior appointment only. See more information on the Student Health Unit website.  
  • UniCoV Testing Study: Our University is part of an important new, on campus, COVID-19 testing research study, UniCoV. The aim is to assess rapid testing for COVID-19 and develop an early warning system for outbreaks in universities. Ultimately the findings could prove to be a vital part in the planning for as many students and staff as possible to be back on campus. To succeed, we need students and staff to take part, even if fully vaccinated. You will have the opportunity to be tested twice a week. Please consider participating in the UniCoV study.  You can sign up here at https://unicov.org/join-the-study-nui-galway/  
  • Vaccination:  The HSE Vaccination portal for the age group 16 and older is now open and you can register here https://vaccine.hse.ie. To register online you will need your Personal Public Service (PPS) number, your Eircode, a mobile phone number and an email address. If you are an international student, or you don’t have any of these, or if you don’t want to register online, please call HSELive on 1800 700 700.  Working back from our planned return to campus in September, to be fully vaccinated by then, if you have not done so already, the time to get vaccinated is now.

Our university didn't close during Covid; we came through challenging times together – challenging for many of us in so many ways – thanks to the dedication and determination of our students and staff. Thank you for your continued commitment to and concern for our university community which will, we hope, get us through another challenging year ahead.  

Kind regards,

Ciarán

Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh
President, NUI Galway