21October2021

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Deep Cuts at Teagasc will Hurt, Warns Gerry Boyle

Martin Ryan

Teagasc may not be able to accommodate any increase in student numbers next year as the organisation faces a further 15pc cut in staff numbers.Speaking at the Teagasc headquarters at Oakpark, Carlow, the advisory service's director, Gerry Boyle, warned that the organisation will not be able to maintain the current level of service to farmers due to Troika budgetary constraints and a target to cut a further 200 staff from its payroll over the next 18 months.

"While we have been able to keep the service fairly intact over the past five years we are now heading into a new period," Prof Boyle told members of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists last week.

"We are putting together a change programme for the next three years and it is going to see a fairly significant change in the profile of what we do and the services which we provide," he said.

Prof Boyle said that pensions now accounted for more than a third of the €112m Government grant that the organisation received this year.

EDUCATION

"There is going to be a continuation of the moratorium on staff recruitment and we think we have reached the limit in relation to what we can offer, particularly in education and in advisory," he warned.

"In practical terms, that might mean divesting ourselves of certain activities in advisory to support the SFP and focusing more around the Food Harvest 2020 agenda.

"In education I think we are at the limit in terms of staff/student ratio and we might not be able to take on more students, which we have been able to do up to now," he explained.

Since 2006, ag student numbers at colleges have more than doubled from 618 to 1,491.

However, the number of teachers has been reduced from 72 to 66 and the student/ teacher ratio increased from 12 to 20.

This cannot be increased further due to the amount of machinery and equipment training that are central to the courses, according to the Teagasc boss.

NARROW

"On the research side we are going to have to narrow the areas of specialisation, because we don't have the necessary staff, and we are in danger of losing experienced staff.

Source: Independent.ie - Deep Cuts at Teagasc will Hurt, Warns Gerry Boyle