Rise in demand for ag science continues
Perhaps unsurprisingly, CAO points for agricultural science courses have for the most part risen again this year, but not by the same extent that has been the case since 2007. The points for honours Agricultural Science degree at UCD have gone up by 10 to 430 as opposed to a 25-point jump last year and the most significant increase is for Dairy Business, which has gone up by 40 points to 410.
The Levels 6 and 7 certificates and ordinary degrees in agriculture have all gone up, with the exception of Agricultural Engineering at IT Tralee, which has dropped by 10 points to 240.
Horticulture is seeing a drop in overall popularity, with a fall of 20 points being seen in the Level 7 BSc in Horticulture at Waterford IT and a fall of 15 points for the same course at Cork IT. However, there is a 30-point jump in demand for the Level 8 degree in Horticulture, Forestry at UCD, to 360 points.
Head of education at Teagasc, Paddy Browne says that this year's CAO points are ''consistent with the explosion in applications for Teagasc courses''.
As Teagasc notifies applicants to its courses directly, there are no CAO points but the volume of applications shows that agriculture is in demand.
The numbers taking agricultural science for the Leaving Certificate has risen by 22% in recent years. Paddy Browne says that he does not see the recession as being the only reason for this increase, but rather thinks that it is a combination of a number of factors, including an increase in genuine interest in agriculture.
Commenting on the rise in CAO applications for agriculture programmes, UCD's dean of agriculture, Professor Jim Phelan noted the impact of the agriculture and food industry to the Irish economy on increased application numbers. ''I am not surprised that greater numbers of students are choosing to apply to study agriculture courses. A recent UCD/IFA study highlighted the important contribution that [the sector] makes to the Irish economy and indeed the positive outlook for Irish agriculture and food.''
The number of applicants for agricultural science courses this year stood at 6,082, verses 4,366 in 2008, a jump of around 1,800 in just three years.