Annual Report 2001 - Student Support & Development

annual report 2001

student affairs

Director: Mr Barry Kehoe
Unit Report

Counselling Services
The Counselling Service had a busy, successful and enjoyable year. A major appointment was secured with the selection and recruitment of a second permanent full-time Student Counsellor post. There were 1,440 appointments booked, facilitating a clinical caseload of 319 with an average number of sessions per client being 4.1. The number of students using the Counselling Service has increased by 38% comparing the 1991 - 1992 to the 2000 - 2001 figures.

An array for pro-active initiatives were undertaken by the Counselling Service including:

  • The selection and recruitment of a DCU Retention Officer (now called the First Year Support Officer).
  • Setting up a DCU retention forum for planning and discussion.
  • The Student Empowerment Programme being successfully endorsed by the new DCU strategic plan.
  • Held the position of Chairperson of the Irish Association of University and College Counsellors (IAUCC).
  • Held the position of Vice Chairperson of the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS).
  • Drafted and successfully submitted to Executive an 'International Policy' - A discussion paper on DCU's future strategy on international issues (Feb. 2001).
  • Expansion of the 'Discover DCU' joint initiative with the Access Service.
  • Represented DCU on the National Working Group on Alcohol in Higher Education, which was instrumental in the design and formation of the 'National Alcohol Policy in Higher Education'.

Careers and Appointments Service
It was a very successful year for the Careers and Appointments Service with individual, group and class career guidance and counselling. In addition there were a series of successful programmes of seminars and workshops and a vibrant visiting employers programme offered to students. The inaugural DCU Employers Recruitment & Information Fair was held on the 19th October 2000. This was the first time such a fair was held in DCU and it was a great success with 73 companies attending the fair.

The DCU Careers and Appointments Service website and email communication with DCU students and graduates featured heavily in the work of the service. The weekly newsletter continues to be a vibrant source of vacancy information for both students and graduates. There was also published a joint Careers and Appointments Service and Library web-based Guide to Careers Information Resources.

The Careers Officer was heavily involved in the DCU Strategic Planning Committee and contributed significantly to DCU's strategic plan 2000-2005. The Careers and Appointments Service also participated in a large number of internal DCU committees and programme reviews.

The service continued to offer assistance to students on both a Drop-In/Duty Officer and short-interview session or on a longer one-to-one interview. 573 students used the duty officer facility, while 153 availed of a one-to-one interview session.

Health Service
During the year, a new policy was introduced in relation to the provisions of student health services on campus. This was due to the various constraints identified in previous reports in relation to the limited provision of clinics, inadequate space and privacy within the current structures and systems operating in the Health Service. Under the policy, all students are directed to register with a local general practitioner for general health services with the University Health Service providing additional support.

There were 8,029 consultations with peak attendance in October and March. The Health Centre co-ordinated an effective Meningococcal C Vaccination Programme in consultation with the Northern Area Health Board and provided vaccinations to 60% of the target population with an estimated further 20% - 25% immunisations provided by family doctors. The number of appointments for the physiotherapist was 258.

Sports and Recreation Service
The 2000/2001 academic year saw the reorganisation of the Sports Scholarship Awards Programme. This year the programme supported three volleyball, two golf, two tennis, one table tennis, one rugby and one sailing scholar. In addition, a significant contribution was made to the GAA Scholarship programme.

The service was successful in getting HEA funding for disabled sport. The purchase of a range of professional resources in addition to staff disability awareness training assisted in providing a base from which to develop the programme.

The Sport and Recreation Service is actively involved with the Council of University Sports Administrators Ireland (CUSAI) and the British University and Colleges Physical Education Association (BUCPEA). Staff from the service attended the North American Society for Sports Management (NASSM) Conference, the European Sports Management Conference and the Irish Leisure Managers Conference.

St. Clare's Sports Ground has continued to develop with 16 team changing rooms, 2 umpire changing rooms, first aid and meeting rooms, in addition to a suite of offices. During the 2000/2001 year 32,688 people visited the fitness suite and approximately 7,344 people attended aerobics classes. There was 13,076 hours of sport hall usage.

The Chaplaincy Service organised two weekend retreats for Advent and Lent this year. In addition and exhibition was organised on the 'Religious Sense' during Lent. The Interfaith Centre magazine 'Window' was published throughout the year. A special service in memory of the deceased was held in November and the Christmas Carol service was a great success with the involvement of many international groups. Each Thursday, a friendship lunch was held. Many students participated in the Simon Community and Crosscare and £6,000 was raised for the Homeless. The One World Society raised £20,000 for the Chernobyl children's fund while £8,000 was raised for the Children's' Hospital and the Rape Crises Centre during rag week.

Student Financial Assistance
During the 2000/2001 academic year, of the 187 students that approached the service 96 received an interest-free loan, 77 received a grant and 14 received financial advice only. The average grant was £100 and the average loan was £256. The peak times for loans and grants were November, December, March and April and the main reasons for approaching the service included rent and household bills. There are increasing numbers of students attending the service with fears of financial instability while on their year abroad. Many students have to give up their part-time work coming up to exam time and while they are abroad and this is causing a lot of worry. Five students availed of the crèche subsidy this year.

Disability Service
83 students were admitted under the Disability Service this year, 10 more than the previous year. This year saw the mainstreaming of the Disability Officer post by DCU. Under the HEA Targeted Initiative Scheme, the sum of £111,000 was allocated to the service. The application to the Department of Education Special Fund for People with Disabilities was successful, with the allocation of £75,000 made to 54 students. This fund allowed for the purchase of individual items such as equipment, software, individual tuition and transport costs.

Standard Operating Procedures were drawn up and implemented this year for personnel involved in the interviewing of students applying under the Direct Entry Scheme. A new Admissions Policy for students with disabilities is to become effective in 2002. This will enable potential students to discuss their support needs with the Disability Officer before commencement of study.

Other successful policies and procedures included a comprehensive examination policy and clear procedures for applying to Campus Residences. A new Assistive Technology (AT) room has been set up on the ground floor in the Library and houses PCs, printers, software etc. New Disability Service Information Packs were designed for students with disabilities, comprising of ten comprehensive fact sheets detailing information on the many services available to DCU.

Access Services
The Access Service was expanded considerably with the appointment of two new project Officers for Post Entry Support and Pre Entry Support. The service was successful in receiving almost 100% of the funding requested from the HEA target initiatives fund.

This year many existing NDA students accompanied the Access Service to their old schools to talk to students about the programme and college life. The Achievement Award Scheme was very successful and was run over two nights, 224 awards were presented. 153 students attended the Easter Revision Programme. The Take 5 programme also took place successfully in co-operation with the other Dublin third level colleges. The service continued to work with the BITE Programme in Ballymun, the Challenger programme in Coolock/Darndale and the Choices programme in Finglas/Cabra.

Some notable achievements included:

  • Development of the Common Application Form with UCD, TCD, DIT, UL, MUIM and UCC.
  • Establishment of the CHIU Access Officer Group.
  • Co-ordination of research funded by the HEA on ethnic minority participation and needs in DCU.
  • The first three graduates of the NDA Programme graduated in October 2000, two of which are continuing their education in DCU.
Societies Service
The Societies Service is a new addition to Student Support & Development. The objectives of the service include:
  • Supporting and co-ordinating activities of existing societies on campus.
  • Stimulating the growth of new societies.
  • Providing support and advice on the organisation of major events hosted by societies.
  • Providing financial and management advice.
  • Advising on fund raising and sponsorship.
  • Developing and organising appropriate training courses for society officers.

Some developments of the Societies Service included the Societies Handbook, the Societies Start-up Pack, Code of Practice and a training schedule of societies. In April 2001, DCU hosted the AIB BICS National Society of the Year Awards. The DCU Networking Society won the overall National Society of the Year Award.