Initially scheduled to open in the Trap, the new Student Advice Centre has since opened in rooms one, two and three in the Old Student Centre. The Student Advice Centre was due to open in September of last year, but following delays has now opened for the beginning of the second semester. The aim of the centre is to provide another resource for students, particularly for practical advice, as well as the counselling service and the Students’ Union Sabbatical officers.
The location was changed due to difficulties in obtaining a fire safety certificate. A spokesperson for Student Centre Management said, “The travel time from the offices proposed for the former pharmacy unit exceeded the relevant fire regulation limits. The Student Centre quickly made available the former Room 1/2/3 space and have converted it into offices for the new advice team.” With the proposed plans for the Trap, it would have been 1.8 metres too far from back of the centre to the nearest fire exit. Previously a pharmacy had been located in the Trap, but the fire safety cert had been issued almost 20 years ago. Since then regulations have changed.
With the changed plans, the Trap is now going to be a student room, as rooms one, two and three had previously been. However the room has to remain an open space, with no partitions, which would be necessary to provide offices for the two student advisers. Instead, improvements have been made to the room to allow societies to use them. Student Centre Management describe the room as “a state of the art rehearsal and meeting space, to be called the quad room”.
UCDSU President Marcus O’Halloran confirmed that the Student Advice Centre is now open. “The two offices are open at the moment [and] it’s something that we’ll more than likely be promoting first thing as soon as everyone gets back.”
With the new location, the University has managed to cut costs. O’Halloran explains that this will allow the Centre to pay more attention to advertising its service. “We’re going to spend a bit of money on the branding of it and so that people are actually aware it’s up there,” he states.
O’Halloran claims this is particularly vital as the new location makes the centre less obvious. “We have to just make students aware, and signposts aren’t exactly what we’re looking for, we want to make it look like the branding that’s on the student health centre. Just so people know it’s actually there.”
Currently there are two student advisers based in the centre, though they alternate their office days. At the moment students do not need to make an appointment to visit the centre. However O’Halloran notes that “as it gets busier they are going to need to get an appointment. However he also claimed the SU “were hoping that it will remain kind of an open space and people can just go as they please.” He further commented that so far the centre has been successful with both student advisers already seeing students.
Some of the Sabbatical officers have already referred people to the centre, with the student advisers claiming that it is a getting busier. The release of exam results this week could see an increase in the amount of visitors. O’Halloran claimed that this would “give a good measure of how effective it is up there,” adding that he believes it is going to be successful.
Student Centre Management said that “We believe that the strength of the service will be based on the synergy acheived between the SU sabbatical team and the new professional, trained advisers; both of whom are very excited to start work in the Student Centre environment.”