In this week’s Career Focus segment, That’s Farming discuss Mountbellew Agricultural College’s history, farm, and courses.
Mountbellew Agricultural College is located 50km northeast of Galway city and 30km from Roscommon.
Established by the Franciscan Brothers in 1904, the college, a former secondary school, provides education and training programmes in agriculture.
The college runs various agricultural courses, the Green Certificate. This can be completed full-time, part-time or as the distance course, depending on entry requirement.
Students can apply directly to college for the full-time Green Cert course, with an annual entrance exam generally held in June.
For the part-time Green Cert, students must be over the age of 23, and for the distance course, students must have a FETAC/QQI Major Level 6 or higher qualification in a non-Agricultural area.
The college also delivers degree programmes in conjunction with Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Agriculture and Environmental Management and Rural Enterprise and Agri-Business.
Mountbellew Agricultural College farm
The college’s farm consists of a dairy, suckler and sheep enterprise. The farm spans 162 hectares and is an important place for students to gain more experience of the practical side of agriculture.
There are 90 – 100 dairy cows on its dairy enterprise, which is near the college.
There are 50-suckler cows and a 50-strong calf-to-beef enterprise on the college ground’s farm. Furthermore, there are 50 early fat lambers and 200 mid-season lambers.
Level 5 and Level 6 courses at Mountbellew Agricultural College
Mountbellew College offers Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture and Level 6 advanced certificate in agriculture courses.
Certification in Agriculture Level 5 students must specialise in dairy production, drystock production or crop production depending on their preference.
There is no minimum educational entry requirement. Applicants must be 17 years on or before January 1st in the year of entering the course.
A Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Herd Management) is available to students who have completed the Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture and can apply for this course directly to the college.
Students are selected for places by interview, held in June/July.
This course is full-time and provides students with husbandry and management skills to run a dairy farm.
Students undertaking the Level 6 course complete 20 weeks of course work at the college and a further 16 weeks of practical learning on an approved host farm.
Level 7 and 8-degree programmes
The agri-science and agri-business degree courses are all full-time, four years courses for the level 8 course, CAO requirement 285 points and three years for the level 7 degree programme, CAO requirement 281 points. Keep in mind points for courses generally change each year.
Year one modules are the same for all degree courses and consist of: animal & crop production science, soil science, plant and animal science, financial, and farm accounting, introduction to marketing, management accounting, statistics for business and computer applications.
Students spend one day per week in the GMIT Galway campus during year one and two days per week in year two.
In year two, students of both degree courses complete a three-month work placement on a farm, environmental project, or agri-business.
Students spend the remaining two years of these degree courses are spent in GMIT Galway Campus. Students completing the level 7 can complete an add-on year to secure a level 8 degree.
Although there is no accommodation on campus, the college offers a list of accommodation available to students in the area.
A bus operates from Mountbellew College to GMIT on days that students are expected to attend the Galway campus.
Mountbellew and GMIT also offer a Bachelor of Engineering in Agricultural Engineering. It is also a full-time course, level 8 (2020 CAO requirement:300 points) being four years and level 7 (2020 CAO requirement:275 points) being three years.
First-year modules consist of mathematics, manufacturing, engineering, computer design, learning innovation skills, electrical science, agricultural technology, engineering science and animal and crop production for both levels.
Students are based in Mountbellew, with some lectures in GMIT Galway with a free bus provided in year one.
They are then based on GMIT Galway’s campus for year two and three, with one day a week in Mountbellew. Similar to other degrees, students spend the following two years of these degree courses at GMIT Galway Campus.
Course graduates work in the agri-sector or the environmental-sector.
On Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, Mountbellew Campus will host a virtual open day from 5 pm to 8 pm.