200 Galway pupils participate in UNI 4 U programme

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Scoil Bhríde Primary School students (front row l-r) Radley Nicholls, LaToya Rossborough, and Nichole Sweeney with (back row, l-r) Brian Ferguson, teacher at Scoil Bhríde; Rachel Konisberry, UNI 4 U Programme Coordinator, NUI Galway; and Frank Keane, Principal at Scoil Bhríde. Photo: NUI Galway

Two hundred pupils from three DEIS primary schools in Galway City have received certificates of achievement after participating in this year’s UNI 4 U initiative.

The UNI 4 U initiative allows the children to spend six weeks on the NUI Galway campus during the school term, but it was held virtually this year because of the pandemic.

Students from fourth, fifth, and sixth class at Scoil Bhríde in Shantalla, Scoil Chroí Íosa in Mervue, and Radhrac na Mara, Presentation Road were selected by their teachers to participate.

Rachel Konisberry, UNI 4 U Programme Coordinator, NUI Galway; Paul Monroe, Principal and teacher Orla Doyle pictured with students Brianna Barrett and TJ Laurence from Radharc na Mara Primary School. Photo: NUI Galway

Due to COVID, the Access Centre team created a series of recorded material and worksheets for students to use in class in their school this year.

Dr Mary Surlis, Senior Manager with NUI Galway’s Access Centre, said that UNI 4 U is about “demystifying the University and inviting primary school children onto campus to promote the value of education, and to develop their interpersonal, academic, and confidence skills.”

“It is about enabling families to envision a future for their children in third level education, and in the broader context embracing diversity and inclusion, as core tenets of our work in schools,” said Dr Surlis.

President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “Initiatives like UNI 4 U play a significant role in increasing equality of opportunity in our communities and increasing the diversity of our student population in years to come.

“UNI 4 U embodies NUI Galway’s vision and values of respect, openness, sustainability and excellence – contributing to our community and our society for the public good.

“The message that we want to give to these young students is that NUI Galway is their University, it is a part of their community, and we hope, in years to come that they will become a part of our campus community as they continue their education at third level.”

Frank Keane, Principal of Scoil Bhríde, Shantalla, said: “UNI4U has probably been the most significant and successful transition programme for schools enabling pathways through education, especially to third level for children from designated disadvantage schools.”