Colleges use social networking sites and smartphone to aid new students

COLLEGES are using social networking sites and smartphone applications to help new students find their feet over the coming weeks.

As first-year entrants finalise their search for accommodation after the second round of Central Applications Office (CAO) offers yesterday, efforts are stepping up to make the transition to third level as smooth as possible.

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has released an application for iPhone and Android operating platforms to give students access to information about the college and their own courses, including e-mail access, library and online learning systems.

DIT’s Facebook page is also offering incoming students the chance to discuss their thoughts on starting college, clubs and societies they want to join, and tips on saving money to make up for the shortage of part-time jobs.

“The biggest thing we hear from new students every year is that they’re very nervous and don’t really know anyone. But with initiatives like these, they get to find out more and meet the people who will be in their classes,” said Brian Gormley, manager of DIT’s Campus Life which works to improve students’ college experience.

Around 5,000 school leavers, international and mature students enrolling in DIT for the first time will begin induction programmes from Monday, September 13.

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has devised a dedicated induction programme for almost 300 mature students beginning courses this month – out of a total intake of around 1,800 students – giving them the chance to meet others returning to education and take part in workshops on financial support, academic writing and study skills. The college’s access service and learning support centre are running maths preparatory programmes for mature students who have been out of the education system for some time.

CIT, DIT and Waterford Institute of Technology have applied for university status but the higher education strategy review group whose report goes before the Cabinet this month is not expected to back any changes.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner today, Higher Education Authority chief executive Tom Boland says that seven universities is enough but the institutes of technology should have courses, staffing and governance more comparable to those in universities.

Almost 20,000 of this year’s record 78,000 CAO applicants have not been offered a college place to date, with more than half of around 850 honours degree courses already filled before yesterday’s second round offers.

The CAO reported no problems with its website as students logged on to check for and accept some of the 5,000 latest offers, with 1,157 acceptances made between 6am and 5.15pm.


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