Farm Ireland

Saturday 22 October 2016

Teagasc struggling to cope with demand for courses

Ken Whelan

Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30

Tim Ashmore, Teagasc (right) with a group of students in a crop of winter wheat.
Tim Ashmore, Teagasc (right) with a group of students in a crop of winter wheat.

Teagasc is seeking Government approval to employ more agriculture lecturers to deal with the surge in demand for its Green Cert and Level 5 and 6 courses.

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The agricultural research and education organisation will have a record 5,000 students enrolled at the start of the new academic year.

A staffing application, marked "urgent" is currently with the Department of Agriculture.

The main reason for the student surge is the Young Farmers scheme introduced by the Agriculture Department.

This has prompted 3,500 applications for the two-year Green Cert course.

Applications for the Teagasc Level 5 and Level 6 courses in agriculture are also up at 1,500.

"The total number requiring Green Cert courses could be higher and this unprecedented level of demand will require substantial, albeit temporary staff," Tony Petitt, Teagasc Head of Education told the Farming Independent.

He explained that over the past few years some 20 temporary lecturers were taken on when demand increased significantly because of the Rural Development Programme.

Teagasc students can study full-time, part-time or through distance learning programmes.

Last year, for example, the Level 5 cohort of 1,100-plus students saw 55pc in full-time education, 20pc part-time and 25pc pursuing the distance learning option.

About 90pc of the Level 5 and Level 6 students are set to enroll in mainstream agricultural studies while the rest will pursue programmes covering horticulture, equine studies and forestry.


Students who successfully complete the Green Cert can later pursue the Level 5 and 6 courses.

The Teagasc Level 5 progamme which runs over two years covers a wide range of topics including grass production, environmental issues, fertiliser planning, breeding and husbandry strategies and livestock skills.

The course also deals with agri-business issues, farm accounts, farm safety, and there are optional modules on agricultural mechanics farm structures.

This course also includes a three-month work placement on a host farm.

The Level 6 progamme provides advanced studies on dairy herd, crops, drystock management along with modules on machinery.

"Teagasc is currently reviewing its Level 5 and 6 programmes in consultation with our stakeholders and intend to conduct a strategic review of Teagasc education to access the future levels of education that will be required by the farming sector," said Mr Petitt.

"Given the changing face and nature of Irish agriculture it is now opportune to review these awards and ensure that they reflect these new requirements," he added.

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