Coming to College and studying for a degree is an aspiration which many second level students quite rightly have. Later this month, UCD will be host to nearly 19,000 students who will visit our campus to learn not only about our courses and degree programmes, but also to try and get some flavour of what being in college is like.
Being in college does impose particular demands on the student population. The primary purpose is, of course, the pursuit of knowledge and all that this entails. Lectures, tutorials and laboratories have to be attended, essays and reports handed in at the appropriate time, and a pattern of study laid down to prepare for examinations that in themselves are a very real part of the academic year.
Alongside that in universities there are many activities outside of the formal academic ones, which are there for the social, cultural and athletic benefits of the community. It would be totally unreasonable to expect students to participate in everything, but it is vital that they do take part in some activity outside of their academic coursework. There is some evidence that participation rates are not as good as they were in former years, and this is to be regretted. When questioned, some give as legitimate excuses the pressures of lectures and study. There is no denying that these are important but surely if one is to succeed in life then an important factor is the ability to organise and manage time. If done well, it will allow some periods for interaction outside of a department or faculty.
In UCD there is a great tradition of student debate with societies like the Literary & Historical Society, which has been in existence for over 140 years. A quick glance at the list of auditors of the L&H, or indeed of many other societies that are on display in the Arts/Commerce Building, will indicate that very many of these auditors were able to combine their academic study and participation in College societies. Some of those listed are readily identifiable as people who later made their names in many aspects of public and business life of this country.
The value of such participation was commented on by John Henry Newman, after whom the Arts/Commerce Building is now named. Writing in one of his essays entitled 'Living Teaching Rather than Passive Reception of Facts' he states "when a multitude of young people, keen, open-hearted, sympathetic and observant as young people are, come together and freely mix with each other, they are sure to learn one from another, even if there be no one to teach them; the conversation of all is a series of lectures to each, and they gain for themselves new ideas and views, fresh matter of thought, and distinct principles for judging and acting, day by day.'
UCD News is published by the Office of Public Affairs,
University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
Telephone +353 1 7061681; Facsimile +353 1 2698366
Editorial Board: Dr Tony Scott (Ed), Professor Brian McKenna, Maurice Manning