Teagasc unveils three courses in horticulture and agriculture

STUDENTS welcomed the unveiling of three new agriculture and horticulture courses at Teagasc’s Education Conference in Dublin Castle on Thursday.

The three joint education initiatives are: a BAgrSc in Dairy Business at UCD; a BSc in Horticulture, DCU; and a BSc in Sustainable Agriculture at Dundalk Institute of Technology.

However, the new courses have not resolved Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle’s unease at low staffing levels.

“This year, we had to turn away 230 applicants,” Prof Boyle told attendees in Dublin Castle. “Since the beginning of the moratorium on recruitment in the public service we have lost 17 front-line teaching staff across the seven colleges. Our capacity to take on students has been permanently reduced by about 300.

“If Teagasc were treated the same as other State education providers, we could have replaced these staff and taken in all qualified applicants. At a time when it’s universally recognised that education is key to promoting agricultural growth and efficiency, this situation is, to say the least, anomalous.”

The four-year BAgrSc in Dairy Business at UCD will give dairy students a high level of scientific, technical and business skills. Students spend third year studying Technical Management of a Dairy Farm at Teagasc Kildalton, while also completing a work placement. The BSc in Horticulture will combine science at DCU and horticulture at the adjacent Teagasc Horticultural College at the National Botanic Gardens.

The Dundalk BSc in Sustainable Agriculture is offered with Teagasc, Ballyhaise, Co Cavan. The course is aimed at commercial farmers, farm managers and agri-food professionals.

Meanwhile, William Keane has been named 2010 Teagasc Student of the Year. A native of Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford, he completed the Advanced Certificate in Dairy Herd Management with merit at the Teagasc Kildalton College, Piltown, Co Kilkenny.

The FBD Trust-sponsored awards were presented by Teagasc chairman Dr Noel Cawley.

Mark Trenier of Parisee, Belturbet, Co Cavan was first runner-up. He completed the Advanced Cert in Dairy Herd Management with distinction at Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College.

Second runner-up was Jeremy Jennings of Clancool, Bandon, Co Cork, who completed the Advanced Certificate in Dairy Herd Management with distinction at the Teagasc Agricultural College, Clonakilty.

The other finalists were Michael Sexton, Ennis course; Darragh Hunt, Roscommon course; David O’Kelly, Pallaskenry College; Christopher Gethings, Gurteen College and John Donnellan, Mountbellew College.

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