John Kelly, Teagasc Ballyhaise; Siobhan Jordan, DkIT lecturer; Breda Brennan, head of Agriculture DkIT; DkIT student Patrick McGuinness and father Tony McGuinness at the launch of the new part-time Agriculture qualifications on the McGuinness family farm in Richardstown, Co Louth.

DkIT and Teagasc offer new part-time agri courses

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) has partnered with Teagasc Agricultural College in Ballyhaise on a suite of new part-time programmes in Agriculture.

The Bachelor of Science in Agriculture is a part-time, Level 7 degree developed by DkIT in partnership with Teagasc Agricultural College at Ballyhaise. The programme is aimed at holders of ‘green certs’ who have significant experience but did not pursue higher or further education beyond NFQ Level 6.

There are also minor awards on offer in specialist areas such as Animal Production and Sustainable Land Management. The Department is currently developing an add-on Honours Degree programme as a progression route for graduates.

Agriculture is currently undergoing global transformative change to a model that is more sustainable, both environmentally and economically. Farmers of the future will need to be innovative, responsive, adaptive and knowledgeable.

This programme provides an opportunity for existing Level 6 graduates to progress academically and obtain a Level 7 Award or to pursue career opportunities in other parts of the agriculture sector such as the agri-food industry. Strongly rooted in science, the programme will allow existing farmers to develop and improve skills in areas such as sustainable animal and crop production, financial management, soil management, marketing and entrepreneurship, quality management and food processing.

Graduates will have skills and knowledge to enable on-farm diversification and will be in a better position to respond to initiatives and opportunities provided by the new Agri-Food 2030 Strategy and upcoming changes to the CAP.

In summary, the programme will enable graduates to apply evolving science, technology and business acumen through an innovative and adaptable approach to meet current and future challenges in the agriculture sector.

‘We had our first intake on these programmes in 2021 and are delighted to offer again this new suite to add to our current portfolio of programmes for the agriculture and agri-food sectors. DkIT have collaborated with Ballyhaise Agricultural College for almost 20 years in the delivery of full-time Agriculture programmes. This new offering allows us to provide continuing professional development on a part-time basis for those already working in the sector," said Breda Brennan, head of Department for Agriculture, Food and Animal Health at DkIT.

DkIT provides quality higher education, training and upskilling opportunities to approximately 5,200 students across its four Academic Schools of Business & Humanities, Engineering, Health & Science and Informatics & Creative Arts. The IT currently offers more than 65 part-time programmes in additional to an extensive range of programmes at Undergraduate, Masters level and PhD level.

"Having a higher education option delivered part time in agriculture is a wonderful opportunity for the many hundreds of graduates we have from Teagasc Level 6 agricultural programmes over recent years. The new programmes will meet the many requests that we continue to get about continuing education from our clients, past graduates and host farmers. Teagasc staff in Ballyhaise have worked closely with our colleagues in DkIT to ensure that many of the developments and opportunities in Agriculture will be delivered on these programmes," said John Kelly, college principal of Ballyhaise Agricultural College.

Run by Teagasc, Ballyhaise College has over 400 students on its rollbook. The agricultural college was founded in 1906 at the former Ballyhaise House, which is over 300 years old. The estate consists of 220 hectares of grassland and woodland. The college specialises in training students for Forestry and Agricultural Industry.

The new courses are blended and delivered in the evenings and Saturdays to facilitate student availability. If you are a farmer and you are looking to diversify your business or to create more job opportunities, this interactive course may be the ideal opportunity for you.