A NATIONAL farming organisation say the lack of agri-related courses in a €224m University of Limerick expansion project is “an astonishing missed opportunity”.
ICMSA president, John Comer, expressed their disappointment that the huge UL project announced last week does not include any development of an agri-science or agri-economics faculties.
“It represents an astonishing missed opportunity for an institution that once enjoyed an enviable reputation for innovation and the interaction of education with industry,” said Mr Comer, who added that ICMSA contacted UL in June 2011.
They say they urged the university to explore the possibilities of offering courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the specialised disciplines relative to agriculture and agri-food - the State’s largest indigenous economic activity and a sector worth some nine billion euro.
“It was simply astonishing that only a single university in the state (UCD) offered a course in subjects directly applicable to the biggest economic activity in which in excess of 150,000 people were directly or indirectly employed.
“We should acknowledge some of the excellent food related courses offered in UCC and in some of the ITs – specifically Waterford. ICMSA repeatedly pointed out to UL that, in terms of specialised agricultural courses offered at universities, UCD had the field to themselves.
“And if only for the sake of competition and choice it was supremely important that more third level places and courses were designed and offered to our young people so that our agri-food sector would have access to a steady stream of superbly trained and educated graduates ready to lead our hugely important agri-sector into the 21st century,” said Mr Comer.
UL haven’t commented on the matter thus far.
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