DAERA Minister Edwin Poots announces that College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (CAFRE) is ceasing face-to-face delivery of all education programmes as part of the broader effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The cessation of face-to-face classes at all campuses will become effective from 23 March, bringing CAFRE into line with the other Further and Higher Education establishments.
Minister Poots said: “In line with Public Health Agency and Government advice, I have decided that CAFRE should cease the face-to-face delivery of its educational programmes from Monday.
“I am taking this step in an effort to safeguard the health and well-being of students, staff and, of course, the wider public. This will take effect at all three of our campuses – Greenmount, Loughry and Enniskillen.
“Our primary concern in the midst of these unprecedented challenges to public health and indeed the very fabric of our society, is fundamentally the preservation of life.
“So, whilst this has been another very difficult decision to make, amongst the many others facing us, we take it in the knowledge that it is for the common good.
“My Department is continuing to work extremely hard to do all that it can to help maintain the operation of the food supply chain. CAFRE is at the very heart of the innovation, technological advances and education that help to ensure the agri-food industry in this country, survives and thrives for generations to come.”
“On 18 March, I had already taken the decision to stop the delivery of all Knowledge Advisory Service programmes including industry training, conferences and seminars. However CAFRE advisers are available to support the agri-food supply chain with any technical queries they may have and can be contacted through the local DAERA Direct offices.”
CAFRE Director, Martin McKendry, added: “Despite these challenging times, we are very mindful that our hardworking students will, of course, be concerned about the completion of their exams and qualifications in recognition of their academic achievement.
“At this stage students have completed the majority of their courses and outstanding assignments can be submitted online.
“I can assure all students that CAFRE staff will be in continual communication with them over the next number of weeks, using CAFRE Online, emails and texts to keep them fully informed of what they need to do, to complete the remainder of their course.”
CAFRE develops and delivers programmes of education, training and knowledge and technology transfer which develop the competences and values of people entering and those already working in the agri-food industry.
The College has three campuses each of which has a specialist focus:
Greenmount Campus, Antrim – Agriculture and Horticulture.
Loughry Campus, Cookstown – Food and Agri-food Business.
Enniskillen Campus – Equine.
CAFRE staff are also based locally at DAERA Direct Offices.
In 2018-19 there were 1,700 full-time and part-time students enrolled on Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) courses (from Level 2 to Level 6) at CAFRE.