Department officials to meet college reps over GLAS advisor requirements

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Officials from the Department of Agriculture are to meet representatives of Mountbellew Agricultural College and GMIT in coming weeks to discuss how to solve an impasse involving recognition of qualifications for students hoping to become approved advisors for the GLAS scheme.
Deputy Paul Connaughton this week received confirmation that Departmental officials are to meet college representatives to discuss the recognition of graduates of the Rural and Environmental Management Honours Degree Course in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology as Farm Advisory Service advisors.
The meeting will discuss the educational qualifications required, the adaptation of existing courses to meet the standards required for recognition as Farm Advisory Service GLAS advisors and the options available for past graduates wishing to qualify as GLAS advisors.
‘In order to be an approved GLAS advisor, advisors must be approved as Farm Advisory Service advisors. The Department has now required that all advisors must have a HETAC Level 8 Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science/Land Management in Agriculture and must have taken soil science and an animal or crop production subject to a level 8 (NFQ) degree standard.
‘A review of educational requirements was recently instituted by Mountbellew Agricultural College/GMIT as it contended that the add-on level 8 B. Sc. In Rural Enterprise and Environmental Management met the required standards, but this was rejected by the independent review
‘This review found that some of core subjects of soil science and animal and crop production were assessed only as part of the level 7 degree. The required standard to be approved as an FAS/GLAS advisor is that these core subjects must have been taken or assessed as part of a level 8 (NFQ) degree programme.
‘In order to address the concerns on this issue, the Minister is now arranging for officials from the Department to meet with representatives of the two colleges in the near future to discuss in detail the educational qualifications requirements for FAS Advisors, the feasibility of adapting existing courses to meet this standard in the future and to identify options to facilitate past graduates in achieving the required standard of qualifications.
‘I am hopeful that this matter can be resolved quickly for all of the students involved and will be pressing Minister Coveney to ensure a quick resolution to ensure that students from this region do not lose out in terms of the opportunity to become a GLAS Advisor.’