Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Before the recession we only had 13 or 14 agriculture students - now we have over 300'

The boom in agricultural studies is continuing at Waterford IT which offers students several options.

The flagship course is the Level 8 BSc Agriculture Science course on offer alongside two Level 7 courses in agriculture and forestry and horticulture.

Students taking these courses have the option of pursuing a Level 8 add-on year in land management.

The horticulture course is run in association with the Botanical Gardens in Dublin while the college also runs a standalone agri-industry course in association with Glanbia. This course aims to upgrade the skills of those involved in the dairying sector.

WIT agriculture programme manager Michael Breen says the demand for agri-related courses picked up when off-farm jobs in the construction sector dried up. "Before that we'd have 13 or 14 students doing agriculture-related studies at the college in any given year and now we have over 300 across our various courses," he said.

"And provisionally we should have a further increase in student numbers next year judging by the first CAO choices of second level students earlier this year.

"This number may increase when the final CAO choices are known," he added


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"I don't believe we have reached a peak in numbers terms yet - I think this interest in agriculture studies will continue for some time," he added. Waterford IT will confer its first BSc Ag degrees in the autumn and two of these graduates are set to pursue PhD studies in agriculture with Teagasc Moorepark later this year.

The WIT agri-students tend to follow two paths. Level 7 students who complete the Level 8 add-on usually go back home to work on the family farm or take up positions as farm managers.

The BSc graduates tend to pursue careers in the wider agri-business sector with meat processors and dairy co-ops or pursue careers in research or related areas.

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