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Frequently asked questions

Grants and Fees

Question: I’m afraid I won’t be able to afford my fees next semester.
Answer:

Students who do not qualify for free fees, and who have difficulty in paying their tuition should contact the Fees and Grants Office for advice as soon as possible. They should also get in touch with the head of their course, or the Dean of their College, to find out if there is additional support available. Students who cannot afford living expenses or course materials seek help from the Financial Aid Fund as above. Please note that fees and repayments are not eligible for support under the Student Assistance Fund.

Question: Who do I speak to about fees or grant information?
Answer:

Fees and Grants enquiries are dealt with at the Fees and Grants Office, on the ground floor in Áras Uí Chathail. Grants can be collected in the same location when available. For information on admissions, registration or exams, students should visit the Student Information Desk (SID), ground floor, Áras Uí Chathail. 

If a student has a query related to the issuing or availability of their grant, they can contact Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) at www.grantsonline.ie or their local City or County Council. As procedures vary from location to location, they should check at the Fees and Grants Office for advice. The HEA website www.studentfinance.ie is another good source of information.

Accommodation

Question: I can’t get to know my housemates, or I hate them!
Answer:

Living with strangers can be difficult. Encourage first years to make an effort to get to know their housemates from the moment they arrive, as they will spend a lot of time in their company, for better or for worse. You’ll probably have similar experiences to draw advice from, but if you get stuck why not suggest cooking dinner together, having a games night, or going out to the cinema, bowling, or even for a meal.

If things get tense it’s best is to sit down and talk things over before tempers have a chance to rise. Identify specific causes of difficulty and try to work out solutions – without pointing the finger at anyone. If cooking or cleaning are causing friction, a rota might help; if it’s noise or other behaviour issues, try to remain non-judgemental, and offer specific examples of how the other person’s behaviour is having a negative effect on the household.

If a student seems to be experiencing serious difficulties with their living arrangements, encourage them to contact a counsellor or chaplain, who can give them more specific advice and recommendations.

Question: My house is awful! What should I do?
Answer:

The first thing to do is contact the landlord. Explain the situation and ask what they will do to improve it. If they prove to be uncooperative, information about tenants’ rights can be obtained from Threshold, the National Housing Organisation (www.threshold.ie). They have an advice centre at the end of Merchant’s Road, near Eyre Square, and can also give advice on serving notice and getting back deposits. The Accommodation Office can offer assistance with finding somewhere new to live.

Question: I’m looking for accommodation. Where should I go?
Answer:

The Accommodation Office is located upstairs in Áras Úi Chathail. They maintain an up-to-date list of accommodation available in Galway, as well as contact information for student accommodation locations in the city.

Drugs and Alcohol

Question: I’m not fond of the student drinking culture and I’m feeling isolated and struggling to make friends. Are there any other options for me?
Answer:

Within the university there are many other social outlets for students to interact with each other. NUI Galway has a large array of clubs and societies which are likely to interest First Year students. Clubs and Socs day take place in September and January, and encourage First Years to attend these days.

Question: I'm trying to give up smoking, but it's really hard!
Answer:

Congratulate the student and offer them encouragement. The Health Promotion workshop run classes and give information about smoking and how to quit. Students who would like to find out more should check out the Health Promotion website or contact Cindy Dring on 091-492048.

Question: Someone I know is drinking or taking drugs frequently and I'm worried about them.
Answer:

Advise them to encourage their friend to seek help, either through their mentor if they are a first year, or by getting in touch with student services directly. If the friend is unwilling to seek assistance, encourage the student to seek advice themselves from one of these services as soon as possible.

Question: I'm having a great time: I haven't stopped drinking/smoking/partying since I got here!
Answer:

Alcohol is a drug, and it is the drug most widely used by students and in Irish society. Most students do not develop a long-term problem with it, but some do. Regardless, even the short-term effects can be difficult to manage – not just hangovers, but missed classes, depression, unsafe sex, dangerous situations, and alcohol poisoning are all potentially serious consequences of short or long term alcohol abuse. If you are concerned about a first year's drinking, you should encourage them to seek help. A good first step is the e-PUB self-assessment, available online at www.nuigalway.ie/student_services/epub.html

Cannabis is a drug which is widely experimented with by students; as with alcohol, most users do not develop serious long-term problems, but some do. More information is available at www.nuigalway.ie/checkoutcannabis. If you're worried about a student's use of cannabis or any other drug, there is a drugs and alcohol counsellor based at the Counsellors Service on Distillery Road.

Mental Health

Question: I don't want to talk about it.
Answer:

If a student is unwilling to seek help or discuss an issue which is concerning you, contact Student Services through whatever support service you feel is appropriate. 

If you feel concerned about any other issue described on these pages and are unsure what to do, contact Una McDermott immediately on 091-495282 or 086-8585171.

Question: I'm depressed, upset all the time, or I think I need help.
Answer:

There are many indications that a student is suffering from poor mental health. In fact, these can be so subtle that professionals and friends may not even notice them. This is one of the reasons the mentor's role is so important. It is your job to actively listen and observe for such signs. Often students suffering from mental health or emotional wellbeing issues are consciously aware of their problem, but may need the encouragement of a fellow student in order to seek help for themselves.

If you are worried about a student's mental health, you can encourage them to discuss it with you. Remember, however, that this is a job for professionals, so you should not hesitate to refer the student to whichever support service you think is most appropriate to their needs. Do not try to shoulder their problems or become personally involved. Likewise, if you feel at any stage that you need help coping with a situation, do not hesitate to seek it out.

Question: Where can I find information on mental health and related support at NUI Galway?
Answer:

Students should be directed to the Student Services website (www.nuigalway.ie/student_services), where they will find links to the following related services: Health Promotion, the Mind, Body & Soul Programme, Chaplaincy and Counselling Services, and the Student Health Unit.

Personal Safety

Question: Is it safe to walk home after a night out?
Answer:

Although Galway has low crime rates, it is never okay to walk home alone late at night. Encourage your First Years to have a taxi number saved to their phone and encourage them in general to stay with their friends.

Question: I’m worried about someone I’ve encountered?
Answer:

Students should always be cautious around strangers, especially if they already have a sense of unease about the person. Encourage them to take precautions to ensure their safety and if they are still worried about their wellbeing they should make contact with Student Services or Security immediately for further advice.

Question: I've been through a traumatic event or bereavement.
Answer:

The Counsellors, Chaplains and Health Unit can all help or refer a student to help for dealing with bereavement, post-traumatic stress or anxiety. Students should contact whichever service they feel most comfortable with.

Question: I'm worried about someone I've met.
Answer:

Students should always be cautious around strangers, especially if they already have a sense of unease about the person. Encourage them to take precautions to ensure their safety. They should bring a friend along to subsequent meetings until they've formed a better opinion. If they are worried about their safety, they should make contact with Student Services or Security immediately for further advice.

Question: I'm worried about where I live, I think it's dangerous.
Answer:

Students should avoid walking alone, especially at night or in unlit/isolated areas. Advise the student to find someone to walk home at night with; if this is not possible, students should enquire at the Students' Union Office about taxi vouchers or discount cards, which are sometimes available. Tell them to always let someone know where they are going and when they plan to return, especially if travelling alone. Students with safety concerns should make them known to the Security Office.

Question: I've been attacked or seen an attack. What should I do?
Answer:

Any student who is attacked or witnesses an attack must contact both the Garda and hospital immediately: stay calm and ensure your own safety, then dial 999 (or 112 from mobiles) and ask for the station or hospital nearest to the location of the incident.

Security have a year-round 24 hour presence on campus. Any students who see a disturbance or have suspicions should contact them immediately on 091-493333. If there is no-one in the office, the call will be redirected to an on-duty security mobile number.

Study and Exam Preparation

Question: I didn’t go to lectures, and now I’m afraid I’ll fail my exams.
Answer:

The best approach is to be honest and visit lecturers as soon as possible. Apologise, and while they may not be too pleased, at least they’ll offer what help they can. It’s never too late to make up for lost time, but this will put additional pressure on preparation for other subjects.

Question: I’ve got a million assignments and I’m panicking!
Answer:

Tell them to stay calm, and offer advice from your own experience. In general, it’s a good idea start with what you know and work from there. Remind them how difficult it can be to find that crucial book during essay season, so start research ahead of time. When it comes to deadlines, it’s best not to rely on extensions. If a student does need an extension, they should talk to the head of the course for information, as policies vary.

Question: I’m finding it hard to focus on study.
Answer:

Think about your own experience as your first exams were approaching and offer advice and encouragement. Past exam papers are a good way to focus on revision and can be obtained from the Library website, but remind students to pay close attention to their lecturers coming up to exams as courses may have changed from year to year. The Health Promotion Service offers help with study skills. Interested students should contact Cindy Dring on 091-492048. 

Question: My course is really difficult, I’m having trouble keeping up!
Answer:

There are a wide range of academic support services available at NUI Galway. First year students will be introduced to many of these as part of the Yea 1 Programme. Some of the supports Mentors should be familliar with include:

Blackboard – www.nuigalway.ie/blackboard

Skills4Study – Accesed via the Learning Centre on Blackboard.

SUMS – free drop-in support centre open to all students, can help with math and related subjects. www.maths.nuigalway.ie/sums

Academic Writing Centre: offers free one to one help on academic writing tailored to meet the needs of the individual students. www.library.nuigalway.ie/support/academicwritingcentre

Time and Stress Management

Question: I failed one of my modules/have to defer. What do I do?
Answer:

The protocol for failing exams and deferring is different for each college. It is therefore important that you contact the relevant authority within the department for information on your options.

Question: I’m stressed out all the time!
Answer:

Suggest that the student check out the Mind, Body and Soul Programme, which offers a variety of classes such as Tai Chi and meditation. Check with Cindy Dring or visit www.nuigalway.ie/student_services/health_promotion/ to see the current schedule.

Exams can be a major source of stress for students, so during study week and the first week of exams, the Health Promotion Service offer a programme of therapies and activities designed to help de-stress students. Check out the Health Promotion website for more information.

If a student reports feeling stressed frequently or to such a degree that it is affecting their studies, you should refer them to the Counselling Service, who will be able to guide them in reducing their stress levels. More information can be found at www.nuigalway.ie/counsellors. Students can also arrange to speak with a psychiatrist at the Health Unit, upstairs in Áras na Mac Léinn.

 
Question: I don’t have enough time to get anything done!
Answer:

Time management is an important skill, and one which first years will have to work to develop. Some tips:

Learn to use time efficiently: for example, time between lectures can be used to study, or time waiting for dinner to cook can be used to revise notes from the day. Of course, finding time to relax is just as essential. Good time management will help students achieve a proper balance.

Create a to-do-list for the day or week. This is a great way to keep track of progress and get a sense of achievement.

Start work on essays and projects as soon as they are assigned. This will help develop discipline, and give time to identify trouble areas early on.

Take notes in lectures, unless it's a major distraction, as these will be invaluable during revision.

The Health Promotion Service offer advice and tips on time management. If a student feels they need help, advise them to contact Cindy Dring on 091-492048.

Settling in to NUI Galway

Question: I’ve lost my ID card or forgot my campus account password.
Answer:

For ID cards, visit the Student Information Desk (SID) in Áras Úi Chathail. For campus account and other computer assistance visit the ISS Help Desk. It’s located on the concourse, below the walkway to the IT Building (on the left as you face the IT Building). 

Question: I’m homesick or finding it hard to make friends...
Answer:

There’s no doubt it can be difficult to feel comfortable in a new environment. Try encouraging first years to meet people in an environment where they have common ground – a club or society is a great example, and so are lectures. Outside of the campus, suggest getting to know housemates a bit better – why not cook or walk into town together as a way to break the ice?

If you’re worried that a student is suffering from loneliness, homesickness or depression and needs more help, encourage them to seek guidance from a counsellor or chaplain. If the student is unwilling to seek help themselves, you should seek advice from one of these services, or contact Una McDermott.

 
Question: “I keep getting lost! How do I get to know my way around?”
Answer:

You might offer to bring the student on a second tour of the campus, or show them around town for an hour. Find out what they’ve been unable to locate and look it up on the campus map or elsewhere online beforehand.

An interactive campus map is available at www.nuigalway.ie/campus_map. Printed copies of the campus map are available from many offices. City maps can be obtained at the Galway Tourist Office, located on Forster St. (opposite the CityLink Bus Station). There is also an information point in Eyre Square.

If in doubt, students don’t need to be shy about asking for directions. Staff and senior students all remember what it is like to be new on campus, and will be glad to help! The same is true of the city, which is well-known for being both tourist and student friendly.

If students need more specific directions, they should see the relevant staff member or supervisor (see the Academic Contacts section at front of the diary for suggestions). Of course, asking directions from a classmate works too, and it’s a great way to make friends.