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Ag courses acceptance dates to close ahead of Leaving results

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Tim Lombard

Tim Lombard

Tim Lombard

STUDENTS hoping to attend agricultural colleges this September have to accept their place before they have received their Leaving Cert results.

It comes after the announcement that Leaving Certificate calculated grades will not be published until September 7, followed four days later (September 11) by CAO Round One offers.

However, Teagasc has confirmed to the Farming Independent that the closing dates for acceptance onto its courses is August 21, with most agricultural colleges due to start Level 5 courses on September 14. Teagasc said it would keep the situation under review.

The delayed Leaving Cert calculated grades also means that students who are not happy with their grades won't be able to sit the 'postponed' Leaving Certificate exams until November, pushing their chance to start college into 2021.

Senator Tim Lombard said the timeline means there are anomalies causing confusion with those applying to agricultual colleges.

"I received several phone calls from constituents in west Cork through my office who are due to attend Clonakilty Agricultural College. The closing date for them to accept their place in the college is 21 August, which is before the leaving certificate results come out.

Jon Parry, Principal at Gurteen Agricultural College said many students traditionally waited until they have their results to make a judgement call on what study route to take. He said that while the college is looking at having very strong numbers enrol this year, the exact enrolment won't be known until the college open its doors in September. Teagasc enrols around 1,000 students a year onto full time further education programmes and it said the delivery approach from September will be blended, with students typically attending the college for a few days a week for skills training and then returning home to have some of the theory delivered via zoom.

Meanwhile, Parry said Covid-10 has driven demand for Green Cert courses among adults.

Around 30 students have already paid up to start their Green Cert in Gurteen college in September. "Traditionally, we would not really see applications until August, but we have nearly 30 people already with their fees paid and ready to start.

"Since Covid-19 we've had increased levels of enquiries as more people work from home and maybe now see an opportunity for the farm to be a supplementary income."

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