Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Teagasc courses making grade as demand soars

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

The number of students studying agriculture, food, horticulture and equine courses provided by Teagasc rose to a staggering 1,485 last September, more than double the intake for 2006.

The overwhelming demand for courses is not limited to the seven agricultural colleges either, with another 400 people taking part-time and further education courses in various locations throughout the country.

Acting Head of Education at Teagasc Tony Pettit said students who apply to the seven colleges – Kildalton, Gurteen, Clonakilty, Pallaskenry, Mountbellew, Ballyhaise and the Botanic Gardens – typically follow a number of routes through the Teagasc education system.

"The Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture is the course that students start off in," he said. "After that course, those who are interested in gaining a qualification simply for stamp duty exemption purposes go on to the Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration, which is more commonly known as the 'green cert'."

Students who intend to return home to a commercial farm or work full-time on another holding tend to go on and specialise in one of the five Level 6 Advanced Certificates in Agriculture. Here, they can choose from dairy management, drystock management, crops and machinery, crops and bioenergy, or mechanisation.

After achieving a Level 6 award, students have the option of applying for the new Professional Farm Managers Programme (Dairy), which is run by Teagasc and UCD.

This course began in 2012, with the first 19 students enrolled last September. For the next two years, the students will complete work experience on approved dairy farms in Ireland and New Zealand.

They will also attend block release programmes with Teagasc scientists at Moorepark and Kildalton.

Also Read

Students who are more interested in an off-farm agricultural career tend to move from the Level 5 and Level 6 programmes within Teagasc to additional courses in the Institutes of Technology. Many students move into Waterford Institute of Technology and they can move further up the education ladder by eventually securing a place in the Level 8 Agricultural Science degree in UCD. Anyone interested in applying for a Teagasc course would be well advised to attend an open day at the college of their choice.

A series of open days at all seven agricultural colleges has already been confirmed (see table, left). The colleges will also be open to students for the Teagasc/Agri Aware 'Walk & Talk' events, dates of which will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Once again, prospective students will be required to sit an entrance exam, which will most likely take place next June.

This is a standardised entrance exam which means that applicants who have applied to a number of colleges will only be required to sit one entrance exam.

Students should attend the entrance exam at the college most convenient to them.

Once the exam is complete, applicants may be offered a place at more than one college, but they should only accept the offer to the college of their choice. The entrance exam will consist of 40 short questions. These will include:

nFive general knowledge questions, which may be very general and/or agriculturally related (eg topical issues such as recent farming press articles).

nTen farm calculations based on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and use of percentages.

nTwenty-five farm-related questions across livestock, crops, machinery, safety, farm environment, simple plant and animal biology.

Sample questions are available from the Teagasc website,, to help students prepare for the exam. The website also has detailed information on all courses offered by Teagasc, including course fees and grant information.

Indo Farming