School leavers: Are you interested in a Teagasc course?

The vast majority of school leavers seeking full-time Level 5 and 6 agricultural courses enrol in Teagasc programmes. There are good reasons for this.

The Teagasc college network is unrivalled in the depth of knowledge and expertise it can draw on to support your education. Teagasc is at the cutting edge of research and knowledge transfer for the land and agri-food sectors.

You won’t regret enrolling in an agricultural college programme and here are some of the reasons why.

Highly specialised agricultural education facilities

The colleges in Teagasc’s network have substantial farmland and physical resources at their disposal for practical instruction and demonstration of commercial farming.

The total combined area farmed at colleges amounts to just over 1,000ha and includes over 1,200 dairy cows; almost 300 suckler (beef) cows; 1,000 ewes; and close to 100ha of tillage.

Teagasc’s colleges also have an extensive range of farm machinery, equipment and modern workshops for practical teaching purposes. Teagasc also partners with over 50 private commercial farms known as ‘Education Benchmark Farms’.

‘Hands on’ education and training

For full-time courses, teaching and learning is split about 50:50 between classroom and outdoor practical instruction. Practical instruction classes allow mutual interaction to develop between tutors and students in a ‘hands on’ learning environment.

In advanced Level 6 certificate programmes, Teagasc strongly encourages the development of problem solving, decision making and planning capabilities, utilising discussion groups, visits to external farms and other facilities and external speakers in its delivery approach.

As a full-time student you will spend time away from the college on a host farm. Students value the real life experience gained on one of Teagasc’s network of over 1,000 registered host farms.

James O’Brien is in year 2 of the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (dairy herd management) Programme in Clonakilty Agricultural College. The split between theory and practical-based learning along with the placement has equipped him to expand and develop the family farm sustainably.

Teagasc graduates make good use of their Teagasc education

Teagasc ‘look back’ surveys, among its Level 6 graduates five years after they graduate, show:

  • A very high level of graduates working in the industry post-graduation (90%+);
  • Substantial involvement at management level.

Full-time agricultural programme details

Teagasc offers full-time programmes and adult ‘Green Cert’ programmes in agriculture through a network of six colleges in counties Cavan, Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Galway and Limerick.

Full-time courses are open to all applicants, be they school leavers or those returning to agricultural education at a later stage. Full-time applicants must be 17 years-of-age by January 1 following their enrolment.

The first year (Level 5) at agricultural college provides foundation knowledge common to the overall farming sector but allows some choice on production modules where feasible. In the second year (Level 6), learners opt for a specialised advanced programme option.

These options are:

  • Advanced dairy management – offered at all colleges;
  • Advanced drystock (beef/sheep) – offered at all colleges;
  • Advanced crops and machinery – offered at Teagasc Kildalton;
  • Advanced agricultural mechanisation – offered at Salesian Pallaskenry, Teagasc Ballyhaise;
  • Subject to sufficient demand, arrangements can be made to provide pig and poultry courses at Teagasc Ballyhaise.

Clodagh Dunne is in year 2 of the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (dairy herd management) Programme in Teagasc Kildalton College.

Clodagh always knew she wanted to attend Kildalton and believes the skills and knowledge taken from the course have been invaluable to her home farm. Listen to her story in the video (below).

Opportunities for education and career progression

Teagasc educates people for careers both within and outside of their own farm gate. Graduates of Teagasc agricultural programmes may seek employment as farm managers or herd managers. The rapid expansion in the dairy sector is creating a demand for farm and herd managers.

Agricultural colleges partner with many Institutes of Technology for CAO listed Level 7 and 8 land sector degree programmes.

Substantial elements of these programmes are delivered in situ at agricultural colleges. Teagasc also partners with University College Dublin (UCD) and University College Cork (UCC) for selected programmes.

Recognised trained farmer

National and EU policy prioritises ‘young trained farmers’ for certain schemes and incentives. Depending on the terms and conditions of individual scheme or measures, the upper age to be recognised as a young trained farmer is typically either 35 years-of-age or 40 years.

Graduates of the two-year full-time cycle at agricultural colleges meet the education requirements (‘Green Cert’) for young trained farmer schemes and incentives.

Measures and schemes where a recognised young trained farmer qualification is either mandatory or advantageous to have include:

  • Young Farmers Scheme;
  • National Reserve Scheme – Young Farmer Category;
  • Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS);
  • Registered Farm Partnerships / Collaborative Farming Grant Scheme;
  • Stamp Duty Exemption on Transfer of Land to Young Trained Farmers;
  • Capital Acquisition Tax Relief;
  • Stock Relief on Income Tax for Certain Young Trained Farmers.

Opportunities in the wider land sector

Teagasc offers both full-time and short duration accredited Level 5 and 6 courses in horticulture.

Specialised options are offered at Level 6 for food production crops, nursery plants, landscaping and sports turf. Teagasc also partners with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) for Level 7 and 8 horticultural degree programmes.

Teagasc horticultural programmes are provided at the following two colleges:

  • Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin;
  • Teagasc Kildalton College, Co. Kilkenny;

Teagasc Kildalton College also offers full-time Level 5 and Level 6 programmes in horsemanship and stud management. Teagasc Ballyhaise College provides full-time Level 5 and 6 programmes in forestry.


Education is much more than gaining current grass, livestock, crops and machinery knowledge.

There is a bigger picture that adds value and reaps awards over a lifetime, including:

  • Getting a grasp of fundamental principles around the science of farming and the land sector;
  • Learning to learn through communication, thinking and problem solving and planning skills during course activities; including learning by doing, group work, learning from tutors and each other, course discussion groups, farm visits and host placement;
  • Understanding how big ticket issues such as sustainability and climate change will impact on the land sector;
  • Reaching out, making friends and broadening personal / social media networks (if you wish) that can support you long after you graduate;
  • Having fun and memorable experiences as you learn.

Education is much more about creating lasting personal development than gaining short-term knowledge.

To learn more about any of our education offerings, we welcome you to visit any of our colleges at our upcoming college open days next month. For more information, just click here