No room for up to 400 ag students
Up to 400 students hoping to study in one of the six agricultural colleges this autumn could be left disappointed, according to Teagasc.
The stark reality arises as a direct result of the chronic shortage of teachers within agricultural colleges.
The State agency has lost 17 education staff -- more than 10pc -- of its entire teaching staff since the moratorium on hiring new staff started in 2009.
And, according to Paddy Browne, the head of education within Teagasc, at least 12 more will be retiring over the coming year.
"That figure could be as high as 20 if a lot of people decide to avoid the new pension levy that will come into effect from next February," Mr Browne said.
While four staff were transferred out of the advisory service into teaching positions in Clonakilty and Kildalton, Mr Browne says the service is now at breaking point.
"We turned away 230 applicants looking to study agriculture last year but it's definitely going to be a lot more than that this year," he said.