This page gives an outline of the type of services generally available to students in large Irish third-level institutions (universities, Institutes of Technology, major private colleges).
A Student Handbook/International Student Handbook will normally be provided on arrival giving full details. The range of services provided by smaller colleges may be much more limited.
Students making the transition to the Irish Education system may need support and advice on many practical issues. All universities and some Institutes of Technology have International Offices on campus to provide support to International Students. You should find contact details for the International Office at your institution in the student handbook or on the college website.
College health services are usually available free of charge to students, unlike medical services off campus. There are usually nurses and doctors at college health centres; some campuses may have psychiatrists, physiotherapists and other medical personnel available. Nurses are usually available throughout the day, but you will probably need to make appointments for other medical services.
Please note that nurses in Ireland are highly qualified people and if you have urgent need for medical attention, a nurse will more than likely be able to help you.
The health service can deal with injuries and any illness or health problems you may have. All the records the health service staff keep are totally confidential and are not included in the college's student records.
You should go to the health centre whenever you are ill or worried about your health. The staff there can also tell you what your entitlements are to other types of medical treatment that you may require.
Student Counselling Service
A Student Counsellor is someone to talk to about any kind of problem you may have. Counsellors are trained professionals who can help you to come to terms with and resolve problems, whether these are social problems, problems with personal relationships, financial problems, academic difficulties, or anything else.
Most people find it difficult to adapt to a new place, to new people, to new studies etc., and the Counsellor can often help you deal with problems that you are having in this regard. Sometimes just talking it over can make a problem seem smaller, and the Counsellor will often be able to point you in the right direction for any further information and help you may need.
The service is absolutely confidential, so if you have a worry on your mind and would like to chat privately about it, arrange an appointment with the Counsellor through your institution’s counselling service.
Some universities have Student Advisers in each faculty. The Student Adviser works to promote the social, academic and personal development of students and is available to meet and advise students.
The Students' Union
The Students’ Union is the student representative body in most Irish higher education institutions. The Union employs officers to represent students on the governing body of the institution and other relevant committees. The officers of the larger institutions also organise entertainment and provide advice and assistance on personal and other matters. Services on offer usually include a useful accommodation service, photocopying facilities, typing and thesis printing, part-time work agencies, bookshops, newsagents, etc.
The Students' Union is there to represent students and it is important to let them know of any problems you might be having. If there are any problems particular to international students you should let them know, because they may be able to do something that will benefit you and the other international students in the college. The Welfare Officer and the Education Officer are the most appropriate to talk to.
Make sure you have a copy of your Students' Union Handbook (published at the start of each academic year). It will tell you about the services the Students' Union offers, and will give you useful information about many aspects of college life.
Academic Tutors / Personal Tutors
In some colleges, members of the teaching staff are allocated groups of students for whom they have special responsibility. The tutor assigned to you may not necessarily be from the same academic department as you, or be teaching you this year, but this is the person you should go to first with any problem or difficulty you are experiencing with your studies.
They may also be willing to listen to other matters you may want to discuss with them, as it is understandable that all kinds of problems can affect your study. If, as an international student, you feel you are having difficulties with using English in an academic environment, you should tell your tutor (or one of your teachers if you are in a college without a tutor system) as soon as possible. This will ensure that you can avail of any system set in place to deal with this problem. English language classes for international students may be available in your college, so make enquiries.
There are Chaplains of the main Christian denominations on most college campuses, but you do not have to be a Christian to go and talk to them. You will often find a sympathetic listener, with a lot of useful experience who can help you sort out problems that may be worrying you.
Religious and non-denominational services are organised by the Chaplains in the college each week, and especially around the main Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter and at other times of religious significance.
Sports and Recreation Office
A variety of sports facilities are available on most campuses and there are a lot of different sporting clubs that you can join. Not all of them are devoted to competitive sports, and many people join simply for fun and for the chance to make new friends. Most clubs have an active social life, with some organising weekend trips to different parts of Ireland, often in conjunction with clubs from other universities. Your institution's Sports Officer can tell you what your college has to offer. Most colleges will also offer a fitness programme.
The Careers Officer or Careers Librarian can give you information on jobs, courses and further training for which your present course will qualify you. They will also be able to offer advice on how to go about looking for employment.
If you have no long-term accommodation organised in advance of your arrival, you should go to the Accommodation Office at your college. Some higher education institutions have residential accommodation, but many students rent rooms or flats outside campus or arrange to have lodgings in a family house where meals are provided. At the Accommodation Office you will be able to look through a list of accommodation available. It is advisable to arrive in Ireland 2 or 3 weeks before your course is due to begin to give yourself time to look for accommodation.
The Accommodation Officer should be able to advise you about your obligations to a landlord (if you rent self-catering accommodation) or to a family with whom you lodge. It is especially important to fully understand any contract you enter into for renting a room or an apartment. If you are unsure or have any doubts, the Accommodation office will be able to advise you.
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