3,500 students still waiting to start ag courses with Teagasc

Some 3,500 students are still waiting to start education courses with Teagasc, according to the head of Teagasc Gerry Boyle.

Speaking at the announcement of the Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year awards in Dublin, he said, that the recent high demand for education courses in Teagasc had led to a serious backlog.

One third of the 3,500 students, he said, are looking to start part-time courses, while two thirds are waiting on distance education courses.

Approximately 5,000 potential students expressed interest in attending Teagasc education courses in 2015, driven by the need for formal education to qualify for schemes. Today, there are 4,500 students signed up to Teagasc courses, but 3,500 are still waiting for their courses to start.

“We are very concerned about it. We are planning to accept as rapidly as possible the students and we would like to make a significant inroad into that backlog.”

Education Staff

In 2014, Teagasc received special dispensation to take on new staff, despite a moratorium on the recruitment of staff in semi-state institutions. It took on 65 new education staff to deal with an increase in new student applications.

However, many of these staff were on two-year contracts to deliver the courses and these contracts finish this autumn.

Boyle also said that the real cost of education is losing the labour on farms, but the benefits cannot be overstated. He said that farm incomes increase by 30-40% when a formal agricultural education is on the farm.

He also said that the social rate of return from formal education on farms is 25% as farm incomes are on farms where the farmer has a formal agricultural education, and this impacts on local society too.

Boyle also said that inheriting a highly valued asset and turning it into a sustainable income source is a challenge for young farmers today.