With the 20% decrease in students selecting agricultural science courses as their first preference on this year’s CAO, Teagasc has also seen a slight reduction of interest in its courses. According to Head of Education, Anne-Marie Butler, they are experiencing, “a modest decrease”.

“Students have lots of options which is wonderful and tantamount to the prominence of education in Irish culture,” says Anne-Marie. “The industry at large and all stakeholders have a role to play in promoting courses in land-based education. Teagasc is committed to education and we look forward to strengthening our courses, facilities and experience for all learners across the country.”

The combined enrolments in full-time programmes with both Level 5 and Level 6 learners across all colleges were 994 in 2021; 997 in 2022; and 1,005 in 2023. The apprenticeship

programmes, introduced in September 2023, saw a total of 51 new students.

The figures in the table below show a decline of incoming students, particularly compared to 2021.

The Teagasc Education Programme has evolved to currently having four streams of delivery of content to agricultural and land-based sector learners. These include further education (Level 5 and 6) via full-time courses (through colleges) and further education (Level 5 and 6) via part-time and distance education courses.

ASA President Anne Marie Butler at home on their farm in Freshford, Co Kilkenny. \ Philip Doyle

New strategy

Teagasc is developing a new strategy for its Education Programme to ensure that it continues to meet the evolving needs of its learners and the agri-food sector. It will explore the opportunities and challenges for the future.

“Over recent years, the tremendous growth in the number and variety of courses offered for all learners is greatly welcomed,” says Anne-Marie. “All education providers, Teagasc included, are competing in a busy space and need to promote the benefits of a qualification and career in the land-based sector.” Sometimes the Level 5, Level 6 and apprenticeships pathways are overlooked, resulting in students being advised to pursue other courses, according to Anne-Marie.

“I would encourage all to reflect on the subjects they enjoy, their appreciation for practical learning and outdoor experiences and the power of a Level 5 and Level 6 qualification as a stepping stone on their career and personal development journey,” she says.

“Many of our learners progress to Level 7 and Level 8 courses having completed training with Teagasc.”

• On 22 June, Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, Co Limerick is hosting an open day from 11am to 1pm.

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