NUI Galway

The National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway; Irish: OÉ Gaillimh) is located in the city of Galway in Ireland. A third-level teaching and research institution, the University has been awarded the full five QS stars for excellence,[2] and is ranked among the top 1 percent of universities according to the 2018 QS World University Rankings.[3]

NUI Galway
OÉ Gaillimh
Latin: Universitas Hiberniae Nationali apud Galviam
Former names
Queen’s College Galway
University College Galway
MottoDeo Favente
Motto in English
With the favour of God
PresidentProfessor Ciarán O hÓgartaigh
RegistrarProfessor Pól Ó Dochartaigh
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Other students
University Road
Galway H91 TK33
, ,
53.279°N 9.060°W / 53.279; -9.060
Coimbra Group

The University was founded in 1845 as "Queen's College Galway", and was more recently known as "University College Galway" (UCG) (Irish: Coláiste na hOllscoile, Gaillimh or COG).

NUI Galway is a member of the Coimbra Group, a network of 40 long-established European universities.


The University opened for teaching in 1849 as "Queen's College Galway" with 37 professors and 91 students. A year later it became part of the Queen's University of Ireland. The Irish Universities Act, 1908 made this college a constituent college of the new National University of Ireland, and under a new charter the name of the University changed to "University College Galway". It was given special statutory responsibility under the University College Galway Act, 1929 with respect of the use of the Irish language as a working language of the University. It retained the title of University College Galway until the Universities Act, 1997 changed it to the "National University of Ireland, Galway".

Located close to the city centre, it stretches along the River Corrib. The oldest part of the University, the Quadrangle with its Aula Maxima was designed by John Benjamin Keane; it is a replica of Christ Church, one of the colleges at the University of Oxford. The stone from which it is built was supplied locally.

Fine Gael's youth wing took a hold on the university in 1973 during the Liam Cosgrave-led Fine Gael/Labour Coalition government, with Enda Kenny and Madeleine Taylor-Quinn among those behind its establishment there.[4]

More modern parts of the university sprang up in the 1970s and were designed by architects Scott Tallon Walker. The 1990s also saw considerable development, including the conversion of an old munitions factory into a student centre. Under the early 21st-century Presidency of Iognáid G. Ó Muircheartaigh, NUI Galway announced details of plans to make the University a "campus of the future" at a cost of around €400 million.[5] Ó Muircheartaigh's successor James J. Browne continued with that plan.[6] The University launched its Strategic Plan "Vision 2020" (for the period 2015–2020) in 2015. 21st-century developments include a state-of-the-art University Sports Centre (Ionad Spóirt), Áras Moyola, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, the Alice Perry Engineering Building, the BioSciences Research Building, the Life Course Institute, the Lambe Institute and the O'Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. A new Human Biology Building completed in summer 2017.[7]

Nelson Mandela made a memorable appearance at the University in 2003. On what was his last visit to Ireland, Mandela condemned U.S. foreign policy and received an honorary doctorate from then NUI Chancellor Garret FitzGerald.[8][9]

Gender discrimination controversy

In 2014 the Equality Tribunal ruled in favor of Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, granddaughter of the famous Irish feminist couple Hannah Sheehy Skeffington and Francis Sheehy Skeffington, who claimed she had been discriminated against on the grounds of gender during 2009. The university "unreservedly" accepted the decision that the "hiring process was flawed".[10][11] In 2015 with "widespread concern" among staff, mandatory unconscious bias training was introduced for senior staff, including heads of school and interview boards.[12] In 2017 Dr Elizabeth Tilley was deemed to have exceeded qualifications for senior lectureship following a Labour Court hearing and promoted.[13] In 2018 a further four female lecturers who had also applied for promotion in 2009 were promoted having settled their cases "amicably".[14][15]

In 2017 the gender ratio of senior NUIG lecturers is 60:40 in favor of men. The ratio of professorships, the most senior academic grade, is 87:13 in favor of men.[16] In 2018 the university achieved bronze status [17] in the Athena SWAN [18] recognizes a commitment to advancing gender equality in higher education and research careers.


The five Colleges of the University are:[19]

  • College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies
  • College of Business, Public Policy and Law
  • College of Engineering and Informatics
  • College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
  • College of Science

Since January 2006, St. Angela's College, Sligo has been a college of Galway; it was previously a recognised college of the National University of Ireland. As a result, those admitted to St. Angela's College are registered as students at Galway.[20][21]

Since 2015 the Shannon College of Hotel Management is fully incorporated into the University — becoming part of the College of Business, Public Policy & Law at Galway —, formally marked by the then Minister for Education and Skills Jan O'Sullivan at an event held in Shannon College on 9 November 2015. All staff of Shannon College of Hotel Management became staff of Galway and all students of Shannon College of Hotel Management became students at Galway.[22][23]

There are several Research Institutes and Centres at NUI Galway including:

  • National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES)
  • Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC)
  • Insight Centre for Data Analytics
  • Ryan Institute - Marine, Energy & Environment
  • Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change
  • Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS)
  • Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies
  • Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR)


Constituent schools found in the relevant colleges include:

  • J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics
  • School of Chemistry
  • School of Computer Science
  • School of Education
  • School of Geography and Archaeology
  • School of Health Science
  • School of Humanities
  • School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • School of Law
  • School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Natural Sciences
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Physics
  • School of Political Science and Sociology
  • School of Psychology


Galway University Foundation (GUF) was established in 1998 with the intention of generating financial support from private individuals and institutions for NUI Galway. It nurtures relationships with donors for whom NUI Galway's approach to education appeals. The Foundation has many 'Priority Projects' in development.[24]

Student life


NUI Galway has about 150 active student societies, ranging from the academic (such as archaeology, astronomy, botany, chemistry, classics, engineering, French, geography, German, Italian, law, marine, maths, medicine, microbiology, philosophy, physics, Russian and Spanish) to artistic and performing (such as choral, circus, orchestra and photography). Religions (such as Catholicism, Christianity and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul) are represented, as are other lifestyles (such as veganism and organic horticulture). In addition, many of Ireland's political parties have active societies at NUI Galway, including Fine Gael, Green, Labour, People Before Profit, Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats.[25]

The oldest society on the campus is the Literary and Debating Society, founded in 1846.[26]

Another of NUI Galway's oldest societies is Cumann Staire. One of Europe's oldest history societies, it is a member of the Comhaltas na gCumann Staire - Irish History Students' Association and the International Students of History Association.[27]

"Dram Soc" (NUI Galway's Drama Society) played a critical part in the formation of the Druid Theatre Company, Macnas and the Galway Arts Festival.[28]

GUMS, the university musical society, hosts annual musicals in the Dubhlann/Black Box Theatre.[29]

The then Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Éamon Ó Cuív and a student became involved in an altercation on the grounds of the University in 2008, making national headlines.[30] The following year, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was forced to flee from a public discussion at the University after being jostled by students opposed to the planned reintroduction of college fees.[31] The Christian and LGBT societies were involved in a showdown over same-sex marriage in 2014.[32] The incident was provoked by Enoch Burke, auditor of the Christian Society, running for the position of Equality Officer in that year's student union election.[33] Earlier, in the late part of 2013, the university suspended the Legion of Mary Society after it failed to satisfactorily explain its connection to posters containing information on a Christian support group for homosexual persons.[34]

An Cumann Gaelach and An Cumann Drámaíochta are the university's main Irish language societies, following the demise of the Cumann Craic. One of the main events of the university's Cumann Gaelach, is the yearly celebration of Seachtain na Gaeilge. The society was awarded the Best New Entry Award at the Glór na nGael awards in 2011.


NUI Galway has more than 40 sports clubs based on campus, ranging from indoor sports (such as archery, badminton, fencing, weightlifting, table tennis and squash), to water sports (such as rowing, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and scuba diving), as well as martial arts (such as judo, karate, aikido, Muay Thai, kendo and taekwondo), plus equestrian, triathlon, athletics and snow sports.[35]

NUI Galway also competes in the most popular Irish field sports of association football, Gaelic football, hurling and rugby union, as well as cricket, hockey and lacrosse.[35]

NUI Galway GAA compete in the Sigerson Cup (Gaelic football) and the Fitzgibbon Cup (hurling). They are the second most prolific winners of the Sigerson Cup.[36]

NUI Galway RFC compete in the Connacht Senior Cup, and are the competition's most successful side with 34 wins.

NUI Galway F.C. compete in the Galway & District League.

The campus is home to a wide range of sport facilities. Facilities include Dangan Sportsground, where the university's GAA teams compete, and the Kingfisher, where Moycullen Basketball Club play their games.

Connacht Rugby

In 2013, NUI Galway announced it would sponsor Connacht Rugby, the nearby professional Pro12 (now Pro14) rugby union team, for the following three years and would put in place a "High Performance Education Partnership" that would give players from the Connacht Rugby Academy and age-grade teams the chance to educated there. At the time of the announcement 17 members of Connacht's squad were either attending the university as students or were graduates.[37]

Within a few years of the start of NUI Galway's sponsorship of the Connacht Rugby Academy, the team had won, what was then the 2015–16 Pro12 title, for the first time by defeating Leinster in the 2016 Pro12 Grand Final. Seven players from the Connacht Rugby Academy played 55 times for their team during that campaign, with others in that squad also graduates of the Connacht Rugby Academy.[38]

The deal was renewed in 2017, covering the period until 2019.[39]

Students' Union

The Students' Union's primary role is to provide a recognised representative channel between undergraduates and the university and college authorities.

In February 2009, the University announced the Students' Union-run RAG week would "no longer form part of the university calendar". The President of the Students' Union expressed the belief that the decision was unjustified, citing the more than €20,000 raised for charities that year.[40]


International students make up over 12 percent of the student population at NUI Galway.[41]




Name of President Years
Rev. Dr Joseph W. Kirwan 1845 - 1849
Edward Berwick 1849 - 1877
Sir Thomas William Moffett 1877 - 1897
W. J. M. Starkie 1897 - 1899
Dr Alexander Anderson 1899 - 1934
Monsignor John Hynes 1934 - 1945
Monsignor Pádraig de Brún 1945 - 1959
Dr Martin J. Newell 1960 - 1975
Dr Colm Ó hEocha 1975 - 1996
Dr Patrick F. Fottrell 1996 - 2000
Dr Iognáid G. Ó Muircheartaigh 2000 - 2008
Dr James J. Browne 2008 - 2018
Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh 2018–present

Notable faculty

Galway in literature and other media

The University is the setting for, and is referred to in, numerous works of fiction.

Breandán Ó hEithir's novel Lig Sinn i gCathú, set in a thinly disguised Galway and telling the story of student life over four days in April 1949, has featured on the secondary school Leaving Certificate syllabus.

Tom Curtin's novel Melting Pot: An Irish Odyssey tells the story of three lads from University College Galway who leave Ireland for New York in 1969.[46]

NUIG has also faced the legal consequences of gender inequality after a number of female lecturers starting proceedings against the university as gender as a grounds of discrimination is prohibited by Irish law.[47]

Rankings and reputation

University rankings
ARWU World[48] 301-400
THE World[49] 201-250
QS World[50] 243

Galway has been awarded the full five QS stars for excellence,[2] and is ranked among the top 1 per cent of universities according to the 2018 QS World University Rankings.[51][3] These rankings marked the sixth consecutive year that the University's ranking improved by these standards.[51]

In recent years Galway has ranked ahead of University College Dublin (UCD) and Queen's University Belfast (QUB) in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), placing it second among Irish universities — behind only Trinity College Dublin (TCD).[52][48] Likewise, in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Galway ranks ahead of UCD and behind only TCD.[53]

The Sunday Times University Guide has named Galway as its University of the Year on three occasions. Galway won the Times's inaugural title in 2002–2003. A second title followed in 2009–2010.[54] Galway won its third title in 2018.[55]

See also


  1. "Report of the President 2011–2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2014.
  2. "More than 100 Universities Rated by QS Stars". QS World University Rankings. 12 March 2012. Archived from the original on 4 November 2015. Other recent additions include ... NUI Galway ... awarded five stars overall ... received maximum five-star ratings in several key areas, including graduate employability, teaching, facilities and innovation.
  3. "About NUI Galway". Archived from the original on 28 June 2017.
  4. "Young Fine Gael". Archived from the original on 3 June 2015.
  5. "Campus of the future" (PDF).
  6. "Campus of the future" (PDF).
  7. "New engineering building at NUI Galway displays green ethos". 15 July 2011. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015.
  8. "Mandela's attack on US over Iraq invasion recalled at NUI Galway". The Irish Times. 7 December 2013. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015.
  9. Freeman, Michael (6 December 2013). "When Nelson Mandela danced to The Corrs in Galway (video): He got up and held the floor on a visit in 2003". Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  19. "Colleges & Schools".
  20. "Education history in the making as local college joins NUIG". The Sligo Champion. 29 March 2006. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  21. "Strategic Partnership - NUI Galway". St Angela's College website. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  22. "Minister for Education marks first merger in Ireland as Shannon College of Hotel Management becomes part of NUI Galway". 10 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  23. "Shannon College Integration".
  24. "Galway University Foundation".
  25. "NUIG Societies". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  26. "Lit & Deb". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  27. "Cumann Staire (History)". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  28. "Dram Soc". Archived from the original on 10 June 2006.
  29. "Musical Society (GUMS)". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  30. McDonald, Brian; Brennan, Michael (11 December 2008). "O Cuiv defends use of force on protester". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  31. "Anti-fees demonstration forces Ahern to abandon public interview". The Irish Times. 3 February 2009. Archived from the original on 19 May 2015.
  32. "Rival protests over gay marriage at NUI Galway". RTÉ News. 12 March 2014.
  33. "Gardaí called to NUI Galway as students confront Christian activists". 12 March 2014.
  34. "NUIG suspends Legion of Mary college society over leaflets". RTÉ News. 5 December 2013.
  35. "NUI Galway Clubs". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  36. "NUI Galway see off DIT to advance to first Sigerson Cup final since 2003". Irish Independent. 14 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018. NUIG, the second most prolific winners of the Sigerson Cup, advanced to their first final since 2003 when they held off a DIT comeback in heavy rain at St Loman’s GAA grounds in Mullingar.
  37. MacKenzie, Linley (4 September 2013). "Connacht Rugby and NUI Galway combine in pursuit of excellence: Players to avail of education at college in addition to mentoring and development". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  38. Fallon, John (Autumn 2016). "Sport: A new direction". Cois Coiribe. pp. 16–19. Developing partnerships with sports organisations, particularly at elite level, will be a key component of the strategy, with the success of Connacht Rugby in winning the Guiness Pro12 title in May - the province's first trophy in its 131 year history - a good example of what can be achieved. NUI Galway is the main sponsor of the Connacht Rugby Academy, which has helped develop players for the professional game over the last few years. Seven players from the academy last season - Sean O'Brien, Peter Robb, Conor McKeon, Conan O'Donnell, James Connolly, Shane Delahunt and Rory Parata - played 55 times for Connacht during that historic Pro12 campaign, while several other members of the squad were academy graduates. Many of the academy players also study at NUI Galway, while there are a number of areas where the University and Connacht Rugby exchange expertise.
  39. Rooney, Declan (27 October 2017). "NUI Galway renew deal with province". Irish Independent. Retrieved 27 October 2017. NUI Galway became Connacht's Academy and University partner in 2013, and since then 19 Connacht players have graduated, or are about to graduate, from NUI Galway including current senior squad members Denis Buckley, Eoin Griffin, Eoin McKeon, Andrew Browne, Dave Heffernan, Jack Carty, Darragh Leader, Eoghan Masterson, Seán O'Brien and Conor McKeon.
  40. Siggins, Lorna (26 February 2009). "NUIG withdraws its support for rag week because of 'unruly behaviour'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 February 2009.
  41. "International students". Archived from the original on 30 June 2011.
  42. "Prof. Gerard Quinn". Department of the Taoiseach. 3 March 2015.
  43. Mulvihill, Mary (15 February 2011). "The man who 'invented' the electron". Archived from the original on 4 June 2015.
  44. "William King". History of NUI Galway, the Science Faculty and associated scientists. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012.
  45. "Ceremony to Mark Naming of Emily Anderson Concert Hall at NUI Galway". NUI Galway News. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  46. "Melting Pot: An Irish Odyssey". Archived from the original on 24 October 2017.
  48. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017". Academic Ranking of World Universities. 2017.
  49. "World University Rankings 2018". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 2018.
  50. "National University of Ireland Galway". QS World University Rankings. 2018.
  51. "University news". Cois Coiribe. Autumn 2017. p. 8. ... with an estimated 26,000 universities worldwide, this positions our University in the top 1% globally, according to QS.
  52. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2016". Academic Ranking of World Universities. 2016.
  53. "World University Rankings 2018: Ireland". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 2018.
  54. "NUI Galway is Sunday Times University of the Year for second time".
  55. "NUI Galway secures Sunday Times University of the Year". Cois Coiribe. Autumn 2017. p. 8. NUI Galway has been named 'University of the Year 2018' in the Sunday Times University Guide, securing the prestigious accolade for a third time, having won the inaugural title in 2002 and again in 2009... having the best job prospects of any other Irish university were among the reasons for the award.
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