A few weeks ago, a new degree in Agricultural Science was launched by UCC in a collaboration with Teagasc. The overall message that came from the grand-opening was ‘agriculture returns to Cork’, a statement which will please many around the ‘Rebel County’.
This will also provide a boost to employers in the agri-food sector, who will now be able to employ a highly-skilled workforce thanks to the degree on offer. According to UCC, the degree will be taught in a way which will emphasise knowledge-based teaching and research to support graduates for the industry. The collaboration between UCC and Teagasc has reportedly been in development over the past two years in response to an increase in demand from students in Munster for such a course.
The degree is set to be positioned in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Studies at UCC, along with the Animal and Grasslands Research Centre in Teagasc Moorepark. This will allow students to gain as much of an understanding as possible from two different institutes. Students, in their learning, will also have the chance to gain experience on work placement, giving them a tangible feel for what it’s like to work in the agricultural sector. The first set of students to take on CK412 will begin in 2019 for the first of their four years in UCC.
Speaking at the launch in UCC, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said “As a UCC graduate and former chair of the college Macra na Feirme branch, I am very proud to participate in the launch of this exciting new degree programme. The possibilities are endless for agricultural science graduates, both in Ireland and abroad: they may become farmers or farm advisers; they may code or build better machines; they can build new Irish companies and brands: and whatever they choose, they will contribute to keeping our rural areas vibrant.”
In response to the launch, the Deputy President and Registrar of UCC, John O’Halloran has said “University College Cork is committed to supporting a strong agri-food sector through the provision of talented graduates. We are very enthusiastic about delivering this very important degree through translating our agri-food research into a connected curriculum to enable the future graduates to face future challenges.”
Dr Karen McCarthy, UCC-Teagasc Strategic Alliance, has told the University Express that, “the course has been designed to respond to overwhelming student and stakeholder demand for a dairy-centric, Munster-based University degree program, supported by the world-recognised expertise from Teagasc. The university is confident that this program will support graduates to tackle new challenges in the agri-food sector and provide fresh, engaged minds with the knowledge and skills to make a real impact in Ireland’s agricultural future.”
In the grand scheme of things, such a move from UCC and Teagasc gives a positive and optimistic outlook for the Irish agri-food sector despite the troubling times we currently face. The impact that Brexit will have in this key sector to Ireland’s economy is well known, with farmers and employers in all types of agricultural-related businesses being deeply concerned and afraid. However, the decision taken to launch such a degree gives hope for future prosperity in agriculture both in Cork and all around Ireland.