A warm welcome to all of our new and returning students to the Academic Year 2019/20 at University of Limerick. First, let me say, do take time to discover all that is happening at UL and for those of you coming back to campus, to find out what is new this year. The University is a living campus with a diverse and inclusive community of students and exceptional academic and professional staff who will engage and challenge you throughout your time here.
Your time at UL will be much more than just learning in the classroom – it will also involve being part of a community, work experience, volunteering and personal development.
Here, you will have the opportunity to become experts in your chosen field, but you will learn also how to tackle problems, working with other students and with other professionals like you during your time in the cooperative education programme. It is important for you to move from the teaching of school to the learning of university, to examine issues and problems rather than solely memorising them, to formulate your own solutions and to recognise the value of working in a team.
With all of that work, you may wonder if there is time for anything else! There are many diverse clubs and societies at UL, which contribute much to the life and fabric of the University. The campus is often described as a village and not just for those of you lucky enough to live in the residencies. It’s a great place for competitive sports and the arts but we also encourage you to stay healthy by engaging in any and all types of physical activity (climbing, frisbee, swimming, tennis, walking), looking after your diet (a priority of the Student Life) and of course we are a smoke-free campus. I am committed to helping you stay healthy, and to graduate healthy, and this includes tackling a culture of alcohol and drugs. I am not going to be coy about the problems of drugs, alcohol and gambling – these contribute to an unacceptably high drop-out rate from university and destroy the lives of students, friends and their families. We are here to assist you if you find yourself caught up in these activities and need help.
We are mindful that third-level education can be daunting and we have in place an impressive calendar of events through the ‘First Seven Weeks Programme’. The first of its kind in Ireland, its aim is to ensure your university experience gets off to a great start. Whether you are studying the Arts, Science, Engineering, Psychology or Business, whether your discipline is Aviation, Education, Health Sciences, Robotics, Big Data or Law, UL will fully support you as an incoming student and through-out your degree programme with learning support units and academic mentorship.
UL is truly an international institution with over 2,500 international students from over 100 countries, making this a cosmopolitan campus. We rank third in Europe for gender balance and UL strongly promotes Diversity and Equality. Our cooperative education programme – one of the largest in Europe - works with local, national and international partners to provide work experiences that will lay a foundation for future employment. UL has participated in the ERASMUS+ study abroad programme since 1988 and has the largest outgoing ERASMUS+ programme in Ireland. The University’s links with 275 partner institutions in 26 EU countries ensures that students can choose from a wide range of possibilities and each year over 400 UL students make that choice.
UL students are exceptional in their contribution to voluntary services here in the Mid West and overseas. The President’s Volunteer Awards recognise this and gives credit to students who volunteer and help NGOs, public bodies and others in delivering support to many worthy causes.
I hope that during your time here you make lifelong friends and ultimately join the ranks of our alumni who achieve great things in academia, the arts, business, healthcare, politics, teaching – indeed in every profession they are helping shape the future of Ireland and beyond.
With warm regards,
Dr Des Fitzgerald