Kildalton College ‘likely to extend application deadline’

Kildalton College expects to keep applications for its agriculture courses open through the summer, according to Assistant Principal Tim Ashmore.

However, there has “probably” only been a slight decline in demand for agri courses even though activity in other sectors like construction and trades have picked over the year, he said.

The college expects to retain the same number of students as last year, with about 200 applications required to fill a course of 130 vacancies given that applicants may have options at other institutions. 

Ashmore said: “There has probably been a small decline in demand, but less than what we were expecting. It’s slightly behind last year, but not that significantly. We really won’t know until September.

“We will probably keep the application process open later. Obviously a few years ago there were more applicants than we could cater to. Applications will probably be open through the summer. People who are in first will get the places.”

Gurteen College

Gurteen College Principal Mike Pearson agreed that it was too soon to tell if applications have dipped due to improved economic conditions.

He said: “It’s hard to know. Nobody will be able to tell until applications close. There’s too much time left to guess what the number will be.”

This comes as data from the Central Statistics Office showed employment in agriculture, forestry and fishing fell 1.5% between the first quarter of 2016 and the same period this year.

Meanwhile, Ashmore said there has been an uptake in demand for distance learning, which is particularly popular among applicants from the north-west of the country.

This spring it started in the south-east too. We’re keeping up with demand fairly well. We have made a lot of offers in distance education. So there is still demand and we’re catering to it.

Earlier this month, Teagasc Head of Education Tony Pettit stressed that farming needed “new blood” to combat the ageing workforce, with less than 6% of farmers under the age of 35.