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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

The College Guide To WIT: Chill-out zones, hazelnut cappuccinos, and Home and Away in the bar

Some tips for students starting in Waterford this semester.

Image: Flickr/infomatique

BASED IN A history buff’s dream city, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is the pride of the county.

The origins of the sunny south-east’s college go back to the 1970s, but it’s only been called WIT since the late 1990s.

With students scattered across five locations – College Street, Carriganore, the Granary, the Spirituality Institute and of course main campus on the old Cork Road – WIT is the biggest institute of technology outside Dublin.

It has about 10,000 students enrolling each semester, and 1,000 staff working across its six schools of business, engineering, science, health sciences, education and humanities.

If you’re off to study in WIT this year, here’s what you need to know before stepping on campus.

What’s the campus like? A mix of modern and historic. Here you are at the main campus outside the Luke Wadding Library.

What’s the most Instagrammed place on campus? Probably the buildings on the College Street Campus. Would you blame people for taking a snap?

What’s the best spot for a chicken fillet roll? Hands down, it has to be upstairs at The Gallery restaurant, which also has a larger range if the classic roll isn’t your thing. The Dome is also a nice spot if you want a more traditional homemade lasagne or roast turkey. Also, before we forget, you need to check out Centra’s hazelnut cappuccinos. Trust us.

But remember, you’re in blaa country, so don’t miss a chance to get a real taste of Waterford. All you need to do is pop a couple of rashers and sausages into a blaa and you’re sorted for a quick lunch.

Where are the best study hideouts? You need to get to know the library like the back of your hand because at crunch time of the semester, seats are at a premium. There’s College Street Campus library which you can make use of, and the Luke Wadding Library on main campus can accommodate 1,000 students.

Postgrads can actually apply for workspace in the Luke Wadding Library but anyone can book a room if you want to schedule a study session. And don’t limit yourself to the college libraries, the city has a dozen in total so make use of them.

Is there a bar on campus? Absolutely. It’s called the Dome Bar and it’s based on the Cork Road Campus. Naturally they show the football during the week, but the joint is also known for throwing Home and Away on the telly at lunch time. Ideal!

But it’s not the only spot to relax. Definitely pay a visit to the WITSU Social just beside the Dome Bar. It’s the perfect chill out area with video games to pass the time and comfortable places to just chat with some friends.

How can you sound like a final year? The real way to pretend you’re a Waterford veteran would be to read up on what the city and county have to offer, not just WIT.

First of all, quite close to the college is Waterford Nature Park which has some nice walkways to help clear your head after a study session. And as we said, Waterford is a history buff’s dream, so there are museums dotted across the city and even a virtual reality Viking experience that’s not to be missed.

If you want to go further afield, take the bus to Tramore for a nice day out at the arcades or visit Mahon Falls in the Comeragh Mountains. But it’s also worth planning a trip to some of the lesser known beaches along the Copper Coast. You really can’t come to Waterford and miss out on the beautiful beaches.

As for a more practical bit of advice you can share with your new classmates, you should know that all students get Microsoft Office for free – that means an extra €80 in your pocket.

And finally, after a while you will probably notice there’s a lot of Brazilian students on campus. That’s because WIT has a deep relationship with Brazilian universities and they make themselves right at home, throwing the odd carnival.

What do WIT students love about it? It’s the cosy size of the place, says applied social studies in social care student Isobel O’Dwyer.

The class sizes are on the smaller side so it means that if you are struggling with something you can ask a teacher easily. And there is always something going on to keep you interested – be it lip sync battles, beach parties or jersey nights.

Multimedia applications development student Emmanuel Ogbonna says she loves that there are so many places to chill.

Students in WIT love the Dome, it’s a nice spot to get food and chill after lectures. Also the games area if you want to relax or play Xbox or PlayStation as well.

And… what do they NOT love about it? Law student Rhiannon Louise Kavanagh says she’d like to see more food options on campus.

One thing that may be slightly annoying is the slight lack of variety in terms of food on campus. There are quite a few places to eat but a lot of them sell really similar food. But if this is something that bothers you, WIT is in a great location with lots of places just off campus to eat within walking distance.

While Isobel says coming to WIT can be tough to commute.

A lot of students in WIT don’t like the fact that there are not a lot of parking spaces and many that drive have to be there early to get a good space.

What should freshers know? Emmanuel says students should mind their student card.

Freshers should avoid losing their WIT card because it costs €25 to replace.  

It’s important to know what services are available to you, says Isobel.

There is a student assistance fund available for any student that is in need. The new WITSU Social is a great place to just hang out and read a book.

And Rhiannon says when it comes to printing assignments, know all the options available.

The printing system at WIT can be really awkward and very confusing at times. Generally what the majority of students tend to do is just pop their files on a USB and have it printed at the Students’ Union offices. They also bind assignments.

Who should I follow? Sporting royalty like Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin and Irish rugby star Niamh Briggs have passed through WIT’s halls, but it’s also full of academics at the top of their field.

For example, take law lecturer Jennifer Kavanagh who wrote the book on constitutional law in Ireland (literally). She is also regularly called on as an expert commentator by the media – in 2017 she was part of Channel 4’s debate on Brexit and the Irish border.

Another academic at the top of her field is Ciara Losty, an applied sport and exercise psychology lecturer in WIT who works with Olympic athletes.

What’s the accommodation situation? A significant portion of students live in WIT accommodation like 69 en-suite rooms in College Fields and there are about 400 students in Manor Village. This means the campus is very active.

But if you can’t get any place near WIT, areas surrounding the city like Ardkeen and Ferrybank are nice spots with reasonable rents for students. Here’s a look at rentals in the area on Daft.ie.

WIT in numbers:

11: In the Unirank leaderboard, WIT is ranked as the 11th best (out of 32) higher education institute in Ireland.

33: Give or take, around a third of the students on campus are from Waterford. And they’re very proud of their IT.

40: WIT has formal academic exchange and research partnerships with around 40 universities around the world, including Oxford, University College London and Nanjing University of Science and Technology in China.

141: Over the past decade, WIT has bagged over €141 million in research funding.

2030: Put it in the diary. By that year, WIT is aiming to break into the ‘top 100 young universities in the world’ list. 

10,000: It’s a tight-knit group of students, but there’s still 10,000 of them all the same. And 1,000 staff.

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

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