Details of three new agriculture and horticulture courses were highlighted at the Teagasc Education Conference in Dublin Castle last Thursday 10 February. Opening the conference Agricultural Education: Supporting Economic Recovery, which is sponsored by FBD Trust, Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle announced details of three new joint education initiatives: a B.Agr.Sc. (Honours) in Dairy Business at UCD; a new B.Sc. in Horticulture (Honours) in DCU; and a new B.Sc. in Sustainable Agriculture (Honours) at Dundalk Institute of Technology.
The B.Agr.Sc. (Honours) in Dairy Business at UCD is an exciting new development and timely given the planned expansion in milk production set out in the Food Harvest 2020 report. The programme is designed to provide students entering the dairy industry with a high level of scientific, technical and business skills. Years 1, 2 and 4 are being delivered at UCD while in Year 3 students will undertake ‘Technical Management of a Dairy Farm’ at Teagasc Kildalton prior to commencing professional Work Experience Placement Students will be exposed to the latest research developments by taking modules in Grassland Management and Applied Dairy Cow Nutrition, Applied Animal Breeding and Reproduction, Dairy Systems and Herd Health at Teagasc’s Animal Production and Grassland Centre, Moorepark.
A new B.Sc. in Horticulture (Honours) has been developed by DCU in conjunction with Teagasc. This programme has been designed to incorporate the theoretical and practical aspects of horticulture to provide participants with the knowledge and expertise needed for a career at the highest professional level. The programme will combine the best of science at DCU with the best of horticulture at the Teagasc Horticultural College at the National Botanic Gardens. The two campuses are almost adjacent and provide world-class campus facilities with gardens of international renown. The first students will be taken on this autumn.
A new B.Sc. in Sustainable Agriculture (Honours) at Dundalk Institute of Technology is being offered in conjunction with Teagasc, Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan. This course will focus on economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural technologies and systems. The course is aimed at commercial farmers and farm managers, as well as professionals servicing the agri-food sector.
Speaking at the Teagasc National Education Conference, Professor Gerry Boyle said: “Our flagship course is our Advanced Certificate in Dairying. This programme is a blend of the best and most up-to-date approaches to teaching and learning. It is a modern, fit for purpose template that combines a solid but relevant academic emphasis with high quality practical learning. The programme is state-of-the-art in terms of pedagogy and curriculum but there is room for further development. I am pleased to announce today that, specifically in response to the Food Harvest 2020 Report, we intend to bring forward a number of upgrades to the benchmark ACA qualification.”
The total numbers of students attending Teagasc run courses increased again for the current year. The total number of new enrolees amounts to 1,673 and the total numbers participating in Teagasc programmes amounts to 3,256.
However, this year 230 applicants could not be accommodated on Teagasc courses. Speaking at the conference Professor Gerry Boyle pointed out that since the beginning of the moratorium on recruitment in the public service, Teagasc has lost 17 front-line teaching staff across the seven colleges. “Some gaps have been filled by redeploying advisory staff but this has not been sufficient to stem the gap. The loss in staff has meant that our capacity to take on students has been permanently reduced by about 300. If the education section of Teagasc were treated the same as other state education providers, we would have been able to replace these staff and be in a position to take in all qualified applicants”, he said.