University agriculture student numbers up

In recent years, agriculture has struggled to compete with some of the more glamorous career options available to young people. But the tide appears to be turning.

This year, Massey University recorded its biggest intake into agricultural qualifications for at least 25 years. The Plants in Agriculture class is compulsory for first-year students across all the agricultural-based degrees. Generally, about 120 students enroll in the paper, but there are 187 in this year’s class. The highest it had been previously was 146 in 2012.

Meanwhile, at Lincoln University, the Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Diploma in Agriculture programmes both attracted 20 per cent more enrolments, compared to last year. And enrolments doubled for the new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing and the Master of Science in Food Innovation programmes.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive Dr Scott Champion said the significant lift in numbers is overdue and great news for the sector.

“It will help fill the skills gap identified last year in the report People Powered: Building capabilities to keep New Zealand’s primary industries internationally competitive – a collaboration between B+LNZ, the Ministry for Primary Industries and DairyNZ. The report highlights the need for an extra 50,000 people to work in the primary sector by 2025, if growth targets are to be achieved.

“Beef and Lamb New Zealand is a long-time promoter of agriculture as a career. The flagship B+LNZ undergraduate scholarship programme involves a $5,000 per annum investment in tertiary agricultural students over the duration of their degree. There are about 20 students studying on B+LNZ scholarships in any given year. As well as financial support, B+LNZ also gathers the scholars together annually to build networks among themselves and into the sector.”

B+LNZ is also involved in the Get Ahead programme, alongside New Zealand Young Farmers and DairyNZ.

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