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The College Guide To GMIT: Five campuses, copper sails, and a school in an asylum

What you need to know about the IT’s many campuses out west.

Image: YouTube/GMIT Channel

ALTHOUGH IT’S LOCATED across several locations in the west of Ireland, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) is a tight-knit community of 6,000 students.

The first thing new students need to do is wrap their heads around the sheer size of GMIT – and get to grips with where they’re meant to be for each class.

So there is main campus in Galway on the Old Dublin Road and the Centre for Creative Arts and Media nearby in the city centre as well, but then there are also the campuses in Mayo, Letterfrack and Mountbellew.

GMIT teaches a broad range of disciplines at these locations including arts, business, science and engineering, while the Mayo campus specialises in nursing and outdoor education – and it’s is also a major destination for hotel management and catering students.

If you’ve signed up for GMIT this year, here’s your guide of what to expect and some tips for fitting right in.

What’s the campus like? There’s many of them, but each has its own charm. Here we are at the main campus in Galway.

What’s the most Instagrammed place on campus? Definitely the odd-shaped front of the main building on Galway campus. We’ll talk more about it later.

What’s the best spot for a chicken fillet roll? If you’re on main campus, a couple of minutes up the road is Duggan’s Spar. They’ll sort you out.

But you don’t need to go too far for a good feed. The Food Zone in the central hub has hot breakfasts, fresh salads and nice dinners to keep you full. They make a mean homemade scone as well. The food is on the expensive side though, so don’t bank on this as an everyday option.

And if you’re a coffee fan, you need to check out GMIT’s in-house coffee bar. They’ll be the ones keeping you awake, so be nice to the baristas.

Where are the best study hideouts? GMIT has four libraries. One is on the main campus, another at Cluain Mhuire in the city centre and the campuses in Mayo and Letterfrack also have their own.

They have all the books you will need and the Dublin Road campus also has the ever-handy academic writing and maths support centres. Don’t be afraid to pop in and make use of them.

But the buzz of the library can be distracting. If you want a change of scenery to read over some notes, pop up to Flannery’s Hotel near the main campus. You can buy a coffee and have a sit in a nice comfy chair.

Is there a bar on campus? Well, no. And it’s something the students would like to see rectified, but you won’t be short of places to chill out after a long bill of lectures.

The students’ union common area in Red Square is based just beside the canteen and can be a haven to watch TV and play games like air hockey, table football, darts and table tennis.

How can you sound like a final year? Whether they’re old protected structures or modern designs, GMIT’s campuses are known for their interesting buildings.

The main building on the Galway campus is actually one of the city’s most iconic sites, mainly due to the distinctive design. It’s odd, but if you take a long hard look at it you’ll see it’s actually three sail-shaped copper panels.

And another tidbit of information. If you’re out in the Mayo campus, you’ll notice GMIT is using really sensitively restored old buildings, not like the new structures housing the Galway campus.

Those old buildings used to house Castlebar District Lunatic Asylum – more recently known as St Mary’s psychiatric hospital. The college first moved into the west wing of the hospital in 1994 and has slowly expanded into other parts of the grounds.

What do GMIT students love about it? For Lee Nolan, who is studying outdoor education and leisure, it’s fairly straightforward.

It’s a collection of nice small campuses with very friendly staff.

Chemistry and pharmaceutical science student Sorcha Murphy says she likes the fact the each class isn’t packed with students.

For me I find being in a small class for my course helps a lot, you get more of the course covered quicker. You get to properly talk to your lecturer.

And… what do they NOT love about it? Design student Tiarnan McGee says the smaller campuses need a bit of love, not just the main one.

Something students hate is the unfortunate lack of facilities on their smaller campuses, for example the Centre for the Creative Arts and Media and the Letterfrack campus.

And Sorcha says she isn’t fond of the library hours.

It doesn’t stay open late enough and there isn’t enough room any more with all the new courses starting. And there needs to be more funding for all sports scholarships, not just main ones.

What should freshers know? Since there’s a lot to GMIT, knowing your way around is a must, says Sorcha.

Get to know where your department is. Each department has its own corridor, like science is in one corridor and directly upstairs from that corridor is also part of the science faculty. Knowing this makes it easier to find your lab or room.

Tiarnan says its important for freshers to sort out their travel essentials.

They should know where to get a Leap card – it’s a student’s best friend. Know where the main bus stops are so you don’t get lost. And most importantly, find out beforehand what buses go where – you’ll get it wrong eventually, but best avoid it on your first day.

While Lee says new first years should make sure they get involved.

I would say get involved in clubs and societies as much as possible. It’s the best way to meet new people.

Who should I follow? Our first pick is Móna Wise, who works as a digital communications and content creator at GMIT. Following Móna will keep you in the know about the important goings on.

There’s also the head of the Department of Culinary Arts and Service Industries, Jacinta Dalton. She’s always sharing interesting things happening in her department. As is John Carty, who is lecturer and researcher at GMIT and specialises in hospitality, tourism and event management.

If you’re one of John’s students, his tweets will keep you updated about the issues in the Irish hotels and tourism market. Even if you’re not a student of his, it’s still remarkably interesting to be honest.

What’s the accommodation situation? If you’re new to living away from home, it’s worth checking in with the GMIT Students’ Union. They have some great handbooks that will help you learn your rights as a tenant.

GMIT doesn’t have its own living spaces, but there are a number of privately-run student villages just a stone’s throw from the campuses in Galway and Mayo.

In Galway specifically, there’s a lot of student housing being built. But some of these new apartments are out of many students’ price range, so competition for places to live is high. Here’s a look at rentals in the area on Daft.ie.

GMIT in numbers

  • 1: Around eight years ago, the Mayo campus was the first institute of technology campus in Ireland to be awarded ‘green campus’ status.
  • 3: That’s how many times GMIT has been named Institute of Technology of the Year.
  • 75: GMIT is a very diverse student body with 75 nationalities spread over the five campuses.
  • 94: That’s the percentage of GMIT students that either have a job or are in further study within nine months of finishing up.
  • 1,200: The college is big on giving its students practical experience. This is the number of students who go on work placement each year.
  • 1974: There have been many graduation ceremonies since, but this is the year of the first conferring ceremony at what was then called RTC Galway.

Are you going to GMIT this coming semester (or is it your alma mater)? Share your opinion in the comments.

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