The Teagasc Authority has agreed to increase the minimum allowance paid to students on farm placement to €208 for a 35-hour week from the current allowance of €122. The move represents a payment increase of 70% and follows criticism of the farm placements by students and their parents.
The payment is made by the farmer hosting the student. Any hours worked over the 35-hour allocation will require an additional hourly payment of at least the minimum wage.
The authority has also agreed to change the placement format with two separate four-week placements in autumn and spring now moving to an eight-week placement in spring only. There will be no autumn placement going forward.
The measures approved by the Teagasc Authority were proposed following an initial review of the placements led by Teagasc head of education Dr Anne Marie Butler. A review of the Teagasc host farmer register, host farmer eligibility criteria and the student complaints process continues.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Dr Butler said there will be further outcomes from this continuing student placement review over the coming weeks and months. She said that the move to a solely spring placement is to enable students to avail of greater training and learning within their course before being sent on placement. Currently, in some Teagasc colleges, students heading on the traditional autumn placement do so as early as two weeks after the term commences.