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Hundreds of city students in rush to train as a real-life CSI

CRIME scene investigation is attracting growing numbers of Irish students.

Hundreds of young people are seeking entry to a degree course in DNA and forensic science at a Dublin college amid the growing popularity of television shows like Bones and CSI.

The BSc course at the Institute of Technology, Tallaght (ITT), has 30 students in the first year and 20 in the second year learning about forensic analysis, DNA fingerprinting, as well as biology and chemistry.

Science department head John Behan told the Herald: "Television programmes like CSI are whetting the appetites of young people for science. We're giving them a broad training to suit a number of careers."

Besides a three-year Bachelor of Science course, a four-year honours BSc degree will equip post-graduates to begin working in a crime-fighting lab. Demand is also brisk for part-time night courses in criminology and forensics at the Communication and Management Institute in central Dublin. Serving gardai are among students at its evening classes.

Criminals of the future will face a growing level of forensic expertise in Ireland. Increasing numbers of young Irish people are seeking to emulate Grissom in CSI or Dr Temperance Bones Brennan.

Mr Behan said a 400 points CAO requirement for Leaving Cert pupils did not deter hundreds of young people from seeking ITT's forensic science degrees. "Demand is very strong, going by the initial CAO figures for next year. Graduates are learning a variety of practical and problem-solving skills," he said.

Besides helping in crime detection, graduates can also pursue other avenues with pharmaceutical firms.

"Diagnostic skills are also in demand at food companies seeking capabilities in detecting pathogens at an early stage," he said. Gardai help the college in bringing real case studies for the students to work on, he added.

At the Communications and Management Institute, principal John O'Toole said the one evening per week course in criminology and forensics allowed people a 'taster' of what is involved over a 14-week period.