Teagasc courses making grade as demand soars
The number of students studying agriculture, food, horticulture and equine courses provided by Teagasc rose to a staggering 1,485 last September, more than double the intake for 2006.
The overwhelming demand for courses is not limited to the seven agricultural colleges either, with another 400 people taking part-time and further education courses in various locations throughout the country.
Acting Head of Education at Teagasc Tony Pettit said students who apply to the seven colleges – Kildalton, Gurteen, Clonakilty, Pallaskenry, Mountbellew, Ballyhaise and the Botanic Gardens – typically follow a number of routes through the Teagasc education system.
"The Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture is the course that students start off in," he said. "After that course, those who are interested in gaining a qualification simply for stamp duty exemption purposes go on to the Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration, which is more commonly known as the 'green cert'."
Students who intend to return home to a commercial farm or work full-time on another holding tend to go on and specialise in one of the five Level 6 Advanced Certificates in Agriculture. Here, they can choose from dairy management, drystock management, crops and machinery, crops and bioenergy, or mechanisation.
After achieving a Level 6 award, students have the option of applying for the new Professional Farm Managers Programme (Dairy), which is run by Teagasc and UCD.
This course began in 2012, with the first 19 students enrolled last September. For the next two years, the students will complete work experience on approved dairy farms in Ireland and New Zealand.
They will also attend block release programmes with Teagasc scientists at Moorepark and Kildalton.