Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Ag courses' points rise as demand soars again

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

A surge in demand for agriculture-related college courses has led to entry requirements increasing for the fourth year in a row.

A view that farming has bucked the trend economically was reflected in stronger demand for third-level courses in animal husbandry, animal sciences and food processing as more students sought out professional qualifications in the sector.

Last year's sharp increase in the CAO points requirement for Animal Science in UCD -- which rose by more than 50 points -- was maintained, with the entry level lifting to 420 from 410 points.

It was a similar story with the other main agriculture courses. The points needed for Agricultural Science and Food Science at UCD were also up, with the former rising from 420 to 430 and the latter 410 to 430.

Dairy Science in UCC saw a sharp increase in the points requirement, with the cut-off lifting by 30 points to 365.

Forestry in UCD was also up by 30 points, going from 330 to 360, while the college's Dairy Business degree went from 370 points to 410.

This year also saw increased demand for veterinary qualifications. The points for Veterinary Medicine rose to 565 from 560, while Veterinary Nursing increased from 435 to 450.

Entry levels for the Equine Science and Food Science and Health courses in the University of Limerick were unchanged at 335 and 360 respectively.

Also Read

Agricultural Science at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) was 370 points, while the BSc in Forestry was 280 and 230 in Horticulture. WIT's Food Science and Business course was unchanged at 220.

The points needed for Tralee IT's Higher Certificate in Agricultural Engineering dropped from 250 to 240, while Veterinary Nursing in Athlone IT fell from 415 to 405.

Jim Phelan, Dean of Agriculture in UCD, said the positive perception of agriculture had fed into the increased demand for farming-related qualifications.

He pointed out that the number of CAO first preferences for agriculture and horticulture in UCD had increased consistently over the past three years.

While just 385 applicants had agriculture or horticulture as a first preference in 2008, that increased to 673 this year.

UCD has boosted its intake into agriculture-related courses by more than 100 places over the past few years, but the entry requirement for these had also increased by up to 100 points, Mr Phelan said.

"The job scene in agriculture had held up quiet well and agriculture remains a very versatile degree," Mr Phelan said.

Meanwhile, the number of Leaving Cert students doing agricultural science has more than doubled over the past 10 years.

Just over 2,900 sat the subject in 2001 compared to almost 6,500 this year. However, just two-thirds of the 5,287 who sat the higher paper this year manage to get a grade C or better. It was even worse for those doing the ordinary paper, at 40pc.

Indo Farming