Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Fears 66pc will miss out on agri courses

Demand for places pushes up entry requirements by 22pts on average

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

MORE THAN two-thirds of students who applied to study Agriculture will not get their first choice as demand for agriculture courses soars.

The entry points requirements for agriculture-related courses jumped again this year with increases of up to 55 points in some disciplines.

The entry points requirement for Animal Science rose by 15pc from 350 to 405, the biggest increase in any course offered by UCD. Agricultural Science in UCD leaped from 395 in 2009 to 420 this year, while Food and Agribusiness Management soared from 350 to 390.

Demand for courses in the other agriculture disciplines in UCD also increased.

Forestry was up 10 points on last year to 330. Food Science rose from 380 to 410 and Agri-Environmental Sciences was up 30 points from 350 to 380.

The trend continued for Horticulture, Landscape and Sportsturf Management which was up 20 points to 350 in the CAO first round offers.

"Agriculture has been very strong again this year and overall the whole food/agri-business and agriculture degree programmes are thriving," a spokesperson for UCD said.

Only 65 of the 300 students who applied to study Agricultural Science will be offered a place. More than 200 of these applications are from students who put Agricultural Science as their first preference.

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Students who were offered places to study Veterinary Medicine in UCD achieved 560 points, an increase of five points on the previous year, while the entry requirements for Veterinary Nursing rose from 420 to 435. Despite the downturn in the equine industry, a surge of applications pushed the points requirement for Equine Science at the University of Limerick (UL) from 315 to 335.

Demand for UL's Food Science and Health was down slightly from 365 to 360.

Students wishing to study Forestry at Waterford Institute of Technology will need 280 points, an increase of 45 from last year. Demand also increased for its Higher Certificate in Agriculture which rose from 255 points to 320.

However, the entry requirement for its Higher Certificate in Agricultural Science dropped 10 points to 270 and its BSc in Horticulture fell to 250 points from 255 last year. There was no change in Waterford IT's degree programme in Food Science and Business which stayed at 220 points.

Bucking the trend, the entry requirement for Veterinary Nursing at Athlone IT fell from 435 points to 415. There was no change in the requirements for Food Science at UCC at 335 points. President of the Agricultural Science Association (ASA), Frank O'Mara, said the increase in points for all degree courses in the agri-food area was confirmation of the growing confidence in the future of food production.

"This is the third consecutive year in which points for agriculture-related courses have increased. In addition, demand for Teagasc courses in agricultural and horticultural colleges is at its highest level in more than two decades. Enrolments in Teagasc courses have almost doubled in the past five years.

"The confidence of young people in the future of agriculture and food is matched by the optimistic targets for growth in the sector outlined in the recently published 2020 Harvest Report. The task for policy makers and the industry is to deliver on these targets," he said.

There were 19 honours degrees courses available in the fields of agriculture, food, horticulture, forestry and equine through the CAO this year.

In general courses averaged 22 points higher in first round offers, compared to 2009. Agri Aware vice chairman Bernard Donohue said the increase demonstrated that students saw the agri-food industry as a diverse sector, offering secure and reliable careers.

"Ireland and the world are about to experience one of the biggest changes that agriculture has ever seen. There will be global population growth and we will need experts in agriculture and food to help us cope with the growing demand for food," he said.

Irish Independent