Looks like the message is getting out there – agriculture is the industry to be in!
The Weekly Times reported that agricultural studies enrolments have risen at universities across Australia and we couldn’t be happier. From what were some very low figures as recently as 2007, enrolments in 2015 have increased markedly.
The article quotes increases in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Queensland and Western Australia. In particular the University of Adelaide figures are the best in a decade and the Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Sydney has increased from just 20 enrolments in 2007 to 130 this year.
And it’s not all about quantity, but also quality. The University of Queensland increased the entry requirements for the Bachelor of Agricultural Science in an aim to attract high-achieving students. They had expected applications to take a hit from this move but School of Agriculture deputy head Victor Galea told the Weekly Times that the number of applications actually increased.
The Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture are not sitting back and simply enjoying these increases, but in an announcement in early March, have introduced tertiary-level education standards for agriculture to help universities design and deliver programs that meet agreed standards, attract more students and produce skilled graduates.
Launching the standards in Canberra, Senator Richard Colbeck said they would raise the profile and reputation of university education in agriculture to help address the current skills shortage.
Project leader and University of Tasmania undergraduate degree coordinator for agriculture, Dr Tina Acuna, said the national agriculture education standards define the nature and extent of agriculture and also outline the key threshold learning outcomes for graduates – representing what a student should know, understand and be able to do upon graduation.
“The aim of the standards isn’t to make every university the same, or even to standardise the curriculum, it is about enabling students to have confidence that their degree is held to a high standard,” Dr Acuna said.
“It is important that we raise the profile and reputation of university education in agriculture to help address the current skills shortage where there are almost six jobs for every agriculture graduate.”
And in Victoria there are more positive signs involving youth in agriculture. At the recent Victorian Farmers Federation grains conference the Victorian Agriculture Minister, Jaala Pulford, said she would form a new young farmer ministerial advisory council.
“It will be a dialogue directly with myself and the next generation of agricultural producers, so I’m looking for people who might have something to contribute,” Ms Pulford said.
She said she wanted all sectors and regions represented.
We live in exciting times and agriculture is forging ahead!