EXPLORE is a collaboration between NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union. In the early years, it was supported by the University’s Student Projects Fund, the Office of the Vice President for Innovation and Performance, and the Students’ Union. In 2015-2016 it is being supported by NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and the Students’ Union, and also welcomes Chanelle, Galway County Council and Galway City Council as sponsors.

The purpose of EXPLORE is to:

  • Encourage innovation, enterprise and creativity at NUI Galway
  • Foster staff-student collaboration as equal partners
  • Develop transferable skills which benefit staff, students and the University

Any NUI Galway student or staff member can take part in EXPLORE. So that means undergraduate or postgraduate students; academic, administrative or other staff – full or part time.

Projects are assessed on three key criteria:
  1. Partnership between staff and students
  2. Innovation (an idea that does not already exist on campus and is not already part of a core function)
  3. Impact on NUI Galway and/or the wider community

Successful projects are awarded up to a maximum of €900.

EXPLORE funding can be used to purchase materials and services and facilitate meetings, all of which must be related to the implementation of projects. Any materials bought for EXPLORE projects remain the property of NUI Galway and the Students’ Union. Funding cannot be used to pay students or staff on the project team.

A panel comprised of representatives from NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union makes the final decision on EXPLORE applications.

Funding is transferred to the NUI Galway departmental account as nominated by the staff partner.

Funds are not transferred immediately. Project teams must provide project updates. Funding transfers are carried out once monthly.

EXPLORE gives students the opportunity to:

  • Bring their idea to life
  • Boost their CV and transferable skills
  • Initiate change and improve the campus or community
  • Work with staff as equal partners outside of the traditional staff-student structure

The idea for a project can come from either staff or students and can be based on any innovative topic that benefits NUI Galway or the wider community. Projects are often inspired by coursework, research, current affairs, interests, hobbies, societies and clubs. EXPLORE funds both non-profit and for-profit projects. Current and past projects can be viewed here.

EXPLORE does not fund projects that are a direct, assessed part of coursework unless the proposed project application goes well beyond the scope of the original assignment. If your project is a graded assignment, please talk to us before considering submitting an application. An example of a proposal which would not be funded is a final year project. Each proposal will be assessed on its own facts.

Each project team needs to provide three short updates about their work during the duration of their project, and to produce a mini case story when their project is coming to an end. Receipts are also required for purchases made using EXPLORE funding. Find out more about reporting.

We require this information so we can show others how EXPLORE works and to keep a record of all the vibrant activities which are taking place through EXPLORE projects each year.

Student and staff should agree to share their project’s findings with a wider university audience. They are also expected to attend events at the beginning and end of the academic year. Participants’ feedback on their experience is also key in finding ways to improve EXPLORE going forward.

EXPLORE was inspired by successful student engagement initiatives at a number of UK universities, particularly at Birmingham City University. Whereas the UK focus has mainly been around strengthening teaching and learning, EXPLORE emphasises innovation and staff-student partnership. EXPLORE is the first such initiative at an Irish university.

It’s our belief that there’s no point putting a lot of effort into a project and then keeping the results to yourself! It is vital that EXPLORE participants share what they have been doing with the wider campus community, and possibly further afield. It’s up to each project group to work out how best to do this. Some suggestions may include: uploading learning tools to Blackboard, presenting research findings to relevant departments, sharing findings with relevant academics and student groups, promoting projects on School/College webpages and through emails, developing dedicated online resources about projects, social media, writing press releases, contacting relevant external organisations, distributing information packs around campus etc.

What makes this programme unique is its commitment to equal partnership between students and staff, as opposed to the traditional staff-student relationship, and the fact that projects are not generally a part of regular coursework. The EXPLORE initiative is also very broad in scope, giving students and staff a blank canvas to work from.

Students and staff will be offered a series of opportunities to meet other EXPLORE participants and share experiences in an informal setting over the period of the scheme. The EXPLORE team also supports projects to market their projects on campus, and to develop their sustainability.

Yes, previous participants can reapply, but the application must be for an entirely new project.

EXPLORE gives students and staff the opportunity to trial a new idea. The EXPLORE team are very happy to work with projects to develop their sustainability and approach additional funders. If further funding is required to run existing EXPLORE projects, support should be sought from the relevant School, College or elsewhere.

Yes, students and staff can take part in up to two EXPLORE projects at the same time. It is up to individuals to assess their workload and gauge how much time they have to spend working on an EXPLORE project.

While this of course primarily depends on the quality of each application, for information, we generally receive 40-50 applications for funding and approximately 50% of these will be funded.

All EXPLORE projects are different, so there’s no average duration. Some projects may be completed in three months, while others may run over the entire academic year. Projects starting in November 2015 should be nearing completion by June 2016 and must be finished by August 2016.

It depends entirely on the project and the participants. Some groups may work on their project regularly every week, whereas other project groups may decide to work on it intensively over a certain period. Around exam time, it is common for students and staff to take a break from working on EXPLORE. Before applying to EXPLORE, applicants are likely to have a good idea of the steps required to carry out their project and the time involved.

It is expected that the results of EXPLORE projects (for example, products, services, research findings etc.) will be shared freely at NUI Galway at no cost.

Before starting work on an EXPLORE project, student and staff partners may wish to draw up a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ via email outlining project ownership with the percentages to be decided by an independent referee. Participants may wish to agree that any party that gives up interest or becomes inactive on the project for six months automatically gives up all interest in the project. It is advised that students and staff who are thinking of applying for funding, but have questions on IPR, should contact the EXPLORE Coordinator, Amber Walsh Olesen.

Additional information and an insight into current EXPLORE projects can be found on this website. For further information, please contact Ruth Hynes at explore@nuigalway.ie or 091 495801.