The first week of September sees the start of the students returning to Agricultural Colleges throughout the country. Teagasc Kildalton College in Co. Kilkenny has seen student numbers increase on the Certificate in Agriculture level 5 which is the first year of the Green Cert course. Currently there are 127 students enrolled on this course including 13 female students. The number of women choosing this agriculture course is up 50% on last year. This is a substantial increase from two female students enrolled five years ago.
The Teagasc Education Vision report highlighted the low rate of female graduates in further education on Teagasc programmes. This contrasts with Quality and Qualification Ireland (QQI) data which indicates that approximately 51% of all further education awards were female. Over the past number of years Kildalton College has championed female graduates to promote agriculture as a viable career for women. The recent increase in female enrolment is an indication that more women are pursuing a career in farming.
Commenting on the big increase in female students in Kildalton, Tim Ashmore, College Principal highlighted the diverse backgrounds and locations from which these students come from. As well as hailing from the bordering counties of Kilkenny, Wexford, Tipperary and Waterford, Kildalton sees this year’s female students coming from Clare, Offaly, Laois and Wicklow. The majority of these female students come from a farm, but that is never a barrier to a career in agriculture and Tim Ashmore welcomed three students who do not have a home farm.
These first year agricultural students will join with students from other agriculture, equine and horticulture courses as well as over 400 WIT agriculture, agricultural science, horticulture, forestry and food science students who come to Kildalton on a weekly basis as part of their degree programmes. In total, in excess 1,200 students will study land based courses in Kildalton College this academic year.
Tim Ashmore encouraged anyone interested in a career in agriculture, equine or horticulture to attend the Kildalton College open day on Friday, 4 October, when there will be an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the course content and see the facilities at the college.