Northern Ireland

Dogs help calm Ulster University students ahead of exams

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Media captionMonty was one of the dogs helping to keep students calm

Dogs have been bringing relaxation and calmness to students revising for sitting exams at Ulster University (UU).

The university's students union is behind the scheme, which has been running across a number of its campuses.

Research has suggested that interacting with dogs can help reduce stress and help improve concentration levels.

Hundreds of UU students have spent time petting and playing with the dogs.

On Wednesday, four dogs spent the afternoon at the students union at Jordanstown.

Image caption Research suggests that interacting with dogs can help reduce stress and help improve concentration levels

The union's officer for student affairs, Hannah Rooney, said that students faced many pressures at exam time, and the dogs helped to reduce that.

"Students really enjoy the dogs, and it's good fun for the dogs themselves," she said.

"It a bit of distraction as it's something we don't get on campus every day, you don't have dogs all the time.

Image caption Hannah Rooney said the feedback from students had been positive

"So it's a way to relieve stress and get out of that mindset students are in with exams coming up.

"We've run this at our Magee and Coleraine campuses and the feedback from students has been great.

Image caption Echo was one of the dogs provided by volunteers from Northern Ireland Assistance Dogs

"They'd want a puppy room all the time if it was possible."

The dogs were provided by volunteers from Northern Ireland Assistance Dogs.

They train and provide medical alert dogs to adults with medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Danielle O'Neill was one student who was revising for exams but called in to spend time with them.

"Being with the dogs just relaxes you and gives you five minutes to put your mind onto something else other than exams and studying," she said.

Image caption Danielle O'Neill was one of the students who took some time out from studying to spend time with the dogs

"It gives your hand a bit of a break from writing too!"

Other UK universities, including Bristol, Nottingham, Aberdeen and Central Lancashire have also offered similar schemes in recent years.