An additional 320 places are to be provided on primary teacher training courses for the coming academic year, with 290 extra places to be created the following year.

The temporary expansion comes amid a chronic teacher shortage which has left many schools struggling to fill vacant teacher posts.

The intake of students who wish to study to become teachers through the medium of Irish will be doubled this year for one year, from 30 to 60.

Ninety additional places will be put in place this year and again next year on English language degree level programmes, bringing total numbers on those courses to 1,090 each year.

Two hundred additional places on primary teaching Masters courses will be provided both this year and next year, bringing the total to 400 each year.

The Department of Education determines each year the number of students to admit to primary programmes in State-funded colleges.

The additional places are good news for Leaving Certificate students and others currently considering pursuing a career as a primary school teacher.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said: "Primary school teaching remains a very popular career option, both for students leaving school, and people turning to teaching mid-career.

"Over successive Budgets we have been successful in increasing the number of teaching posts available in our schools, bringing the pupil: teacher ratio down to its lowest ever level, growing the number of DEIS schools and increasing the number of home school liaison and special education posts.

"All of this, combined with the growth in student numbers in recent months have contributed to a high demand for primary school teachers," she said.

She said the expanded intake was "in addition to a number of measures taken and under way which are intended to address current challenges in the area of teacher supply in primary and post-primary schools".

34 teachers accredited to teach Computer Science - research

Separately, research has found a lack of qualified teachers is one of the main barriers to expanding the provision of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject in schools in Ireland.

The University of Galway study, which was supported by Google, found that the country has just 34 teachers accredited in the subject.

Computer Science is a very new addition to the curriculum in Ireland. Students in 40 pilot schools were first assessed in the subject at Leaving Certificate level in 2020.

In 2021, 706 students were assessed, compared to 1,600 students in PE, a subject that was introduced at the same time.

The study found that out of a total of 140 teachers involved with the Computer Science programme, the vast majority do not have Teaching Council accreditation for the subject.

In focus groups with school leaders and teachers, researchers found that a lack of qualified teachers was the number one barrier to making Coding and Computer Science available at their school.

Schools are currently suffering a chronic teacher shortage that is affecting many subjects, including STEM subjects.

Dr Cornelia Connolly, lecturer in University of Galway's School of Education and lead author of the report, said: "Although the Irish education system has embraced computing in the curriculum at post-primary - by introducing Coding as a Junior Cycle short course and Computer Science as a stand-alone Leaving Certificate subject - we are a long way off making this important 21st century subject available to all students."

The report found that 15.6% of schools were offering Computer Science at Leaving Certificate - 114 out of 728 post-primary schools. It found that 117 schools were offering short courses in Junior Cycle Coding.

It also found a "significant" gender gap in participation in the subject, with males making up 60% of Junior Cycle Coding students, and 70% of Leaving Certificate Computer Science participants.

The report has called for equal opportunity for all students to develop basic Computer Science understanding and skills.