Youth Academy

The NUI Galway Youth Academy was established in 2012 to inspire entry into third level education by introducing children and families to university life and by creating positive perceptions of the university and its academic programmes.

The programme supported by Merit Medical, works with high ability 4th, 5th and 6th class primary school students to support their learning and academic ability. Eligibility is based on being in the top 5% based on standardised test results carried out annually in the schools with students needing to demonstrate high scores in english or maths.

Courses are delivered in NUI Galway at weekends and are delivered by lecturers and postgraduates. Students are taught by engaging and friendly lecturers who are experts in their subject areas. All courses are highly interactive and use a variety of teaching techniques to ensure students get the most out of their experience at NUI Galway. The courses are outside of the primary school curriculum which allows students the opportunity to make new discoveries in different areas of study, in a fun and interactive way. The Youth Academy also enriches the school experience by enabling students to learn about new and exciting subjects.

Youth Academy Courses

  • Impariamo con i cartoni: learning Italian by captioning and re-voicing cartoons
  • When Science Meets Medicine
  • Idea Detectives-Exploring the World with Philosophy
  • Comic Books: Create Your Own Heroes
  • The World of Cops and Robbers: Learning the Law
  • Word Wizardry: The Magic of Creative Writing
  • A fun introduction to Computer Programming, The Internet, and Multimedia
  • Weird stuff our ancestors did
  • Your Radio: Analysing Media and Making Your Own Show
  • Exploring Camera Principles Using Raspberry Pi
  • Art on the Brain: From Looking to Drawing and Painting
  • When Play becomes Performance: How to Make Theatre
  • Exploring Electronics: Learn how to build circuits and robots
  • Robots and Artificial Intelligence
  • Hands on Science with Cell Explorers
  • A Time Traveller's Guide to Europe
  • The Secret Life of Engineers
  • Innovation Challengers-Solving problems for good
  • Discovering a piece of Raspberry Pi(e)

Educational disadvantage is closely linked to the issue of poverty and a substantial body of research shows that individuals from poorer socio-economic backgrounds and communities are likely to underachieve in the education system than their peers from higher income backgrounds.

In February 2014 NUI Galway established scholarships for pupils of families who are experiencing financial hardship. The scholarships selection criteria is applied to students from DEIS Schools (social or economic disadvantage which prevent students from deriving appropriate benefit from the education in schools) and/or pupils with a medical card.

Through the generous support of Merit Medical our ambition is to widen the participation of gifted children who are disadvantaged through scholarships.

Youth Academy Impact

Impact on Pupils

High achieving pupils may find themselves a little isolated in school. Youth Academy allows them to make new likeminded friends and provides an exciting, engaged and enthusiastic community where they can learn together and not feel isolated.

The Academy provides them with opportunities to engage with new subjects to satisfy their curiosity and to challenge them at an early age. All of this boosts their confidence and helps them to embrace their abilities.

For students who excel academically in schools where social and economic disadvantage are a factor, the idea of university education may not come to mind as a feasible option. Few from their family or from the winder community may have attended university to early engagement with NUI Galway is transformative for them in terms of their life path.

Impact on Families and Communities
Educational disadvantage is considered to be a factor that perpetuates intergenerational poverty. Youth Academy has been an important tool in highlighting the benefits of third level education to disadvantaged students, schools, families and communities. We have anecdotal evidence that the families of some of the pupils are themselves pursuing educational opportunities in NUI Galway. This indicates the beginning of a cultural and social shift in perceptions among some communities as to the possibilities and supports available for students who are disadvantaged to study at university.
Impact on Schools

"As a result [of the Youth Academy] the students and their classmates are regularly discussing what courses they want to study at third level" (Teacher)

Having pupils from a primary school attend University is exciting for the school and the other pupils. It raises awareness of University and it provides a platform for teachers to discuss educational pathways. It allows the pupils to learn from the Youth Academy student and it encourages the entire class to aspire to third level education.