The Student Perspective

The statements below provide a summary of our students’ perspective of their UCD experience. They reflect the views of undergraduate and taught graduate students in both Belfield and Smurfit campuses but also give rise to consideration of how these factors might play out for different student cohorts.

Students are proud of their UCD connections.

They believe it is an institution that carries great weight with future employers, including internationally, and they speak with pride and confidence about our alumni.

Students live and learn as one.

If we are looking at students’ experiences of UCD we have to look at both ‘living’ and ‘learning’ – they do. We may be able to influence the various components to differing degrees but it is all one experience for the student.

Students self-navigate the UCD landscape, as and when needs arise.

Students’ choices and circumstances shape their journey, sometimes more than paths we might set for them. Each student’s journey through UCD follows a unique path depending on programme, personal circumstances and situations that arise during their experience.

Students live and learn in UCD, outside 9-5.

Living and learning in UCD extends beyond the classroom, outside the traditional 9-5 working hours, and into the weekends. There are students living and learning in UCD, 7 days a week, during each of the three academic terms.

Students believe that, in the main, the University environment enhances their experience.

They acknowledge that the University is well positioned and has good facilities, outdoor spaces and new buildings. Students value UCD’s welcoming campus and sense of community.

Students want to be self-sufficient within the UCD environment.

They want to manage their lives outside lectures to their own agenda e.g. when studying late they want to be able to find suitable space as well as desirable and affordable food options. They get frustrated when their basic needs to study and live effectively and efficiently cannot be met and they have to work to compensate.

Transport and accommodation issues have an impact.

These issues impact on students stress levels, energy, study time, and the length of time they spend on campus. While recognising the limits of what UCD can do to influence external factors, they see UCD as having a responsibility to help mitigate some of these challenges.

The cumulative cost of being a UCD student has an impact.

Beyond fees and the student centre levy, students feel the hidden or unexpected costs of being a UCD student add up to an extent that has negative consequences for them. This creates a sense, for instance, of Belfield as a high-cost campus, and relates, for instance, to the additional costs that can go with placements and internships.

Students trust in the expertise of UCD faculty.

They clearly recognise the fundamental importance of faculty to their learning experience.

Students appreciate the opportunities they have as UCD students.

They value the wide choice of modules available to them through the elective system, including interdisciplinary options, and the opportunities available to them such as taking internships, attending conferences and becoming employed on campus.

Students perceive a variation in their learning experiences.

In many cases, this variation is desired and valuable.

Inconsistencies/variety in application of policy or implementation of strategy at a local level arose in focus group discussion, with different levels of local interventions experienced, varieties in the level of supports given for certain challenges etc.

Variations in their sense of belonging and levels of academic support were highlighted, related in part to the scale of their programme and consequent interaction with academic staff, as well as limited awareness of supports available to them.

Students focus most on the ‘here and now’.

They move on quickly from experiences on their UCD journey, absorbing what they need as they go, but not always taking it with them, and often not having looked to be prepared in advance. Interactions with UCD staff, supports and facilities are also in the moment, accessed on a needs basis.

Students appreciate UCD’s comprehensive offering of services and supports and the UCD staff they encounter.

Students were able to convey an extensive list of supports and services UCD make available them. There is a level of trust in the guidance offered by many UCD staff members students encounter.


Students needs are highest when their capacity to navigate UCD is least developed.

In particular, early stage students have the most needs and willingness to engage but find it challenging to navigate the UCD environment.


Students are overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive.

This particularly relates to digital information and often leads to students, for example, ignoring emails. Preferred channels e.g. WhatsApp, are often not in use by UCD staff/faculty. The use of word of mouth information and trusted persons may well be, in part, a reaction to this.

Students prefer to receive information through word of mouth.

They turn to their peers or trusted individuals. The four groups particularly mentioned were Student Advisors, SU reps, class reps and peer mentors, as well as the use of WhatsApp groups.

Students turn to their ‘trusted person’ for guidance and support.

These are people students select and trust based on their initial encounters, or where there is already a track record of success. Students tend to have their own choices of 'go to' people for advice and information, rather than the person UCD might have intended for them.

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