The total number of students in third level and nationally accredited vocational certificate courses, which commenced last month in 10 colleges, is 969. This follows a marginal increase in numbers in 2001, which broke a five-year cycle of declining numbers.
Enrolments in new third level courses, provided jointly by Teagasc colleges and institutes of technology, have increased dramatically. A total of 317 students accepted Central Applications Office offers for third level certificate and diploma courses in agriculture and horticulture. This represents an increase of almost 50% on numbers last year, which was the first year these courses were introduced.
Teagasc head of education Paddy Browne said the upgrading of courses to third level status is clearly proving attractive to young people interested in careers in agriculture and horticulture.
“Also, the fact that participants can progress from these certificate and diploma courses right up to university degree level is a significant factor in the big increase in student numbers,” he said. Another positive feature of these new third level courses is that the drop-out rate after year one is less than 5%. This contrasts with a drop-out rate of close on 30% in all courses in ITs. He said participation rates in vocational certificate programmes this year is marginally down on last year. A total of 652 students have enrolled in courses in agriculture, horticulture, horses and forestry. These courses are accredited by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) and students have the opportunity to progress from them to the Teagasc/institute of technology third level courses.