Teagasc spent €6,479 educating each agricultural student in the 2013/14 academic year, down from an average spend of €12,000 in 2009.

Quoting Teagasc figures in the Dail recently, the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the overall average net cost to the state of full-time education provision per college based student (inclusive of further and higher education) for the 2013/14 academic year was €6,479.

The Minister also said the average net cost per full-time student for the three private colleges was €5,067 for the same period. Although Minister Coveney said Teagasc advise that the costs are not fully comparable in that the Teagasc owned colleges have significant involvement in Teagasc research and knowledge transfer activities.

The Minister said that the cost per student across the Teagasc network of colleges has shown a significant downward trend over recent years with the average cost prior to 2009 was circa €12,000.

In the region of 3,700 students participated in Teagasc further education provision and higher education linked provision in 2013, according to Teagasc

According to the Minister typically, over two-thirds of these students attend the seven colleges in the Teagasc network with the balance attending part-time and distance programmes at 12 Regional Education Centres.

The seven colleges comprise four Teagasc owned colleges and three private run colleges located in Mountbellew, Pallaskenry and Gurteen who deliver education courses on behalf of Teagasc.

Minister Covneny also said Teagasc is also a significant provider of specialised short courses to adult farmers and agri- industry covering a wide subject area including agri-environment, farm safety, milk quality, food safety, organic farming etc.

He said typically, in excess of 5,000 adult farmers and industry personnel participate in short term training programmes annually. In addition over 13,000 adult farmers engage in continuous professional development through the Teagasc national farmer discussion group network.