For many years, agriculture as a subject has predominantly been studied by those who come from a traditional agricultural background, however the balance of students and recent trends show that the split is now a lot more even. In fact, during the last six years the majority of students undertaking an agriculture degree at WUC start their course with little or no previous experience in the subject.

This shift highlights how more students now have a better understanding of how agriculture is open to people from all walks of life and the huge value the subject has when it comes to key global issues such as food production and sustainability. The career prospects available to those who have completed a course are vast and the industry continues to require skilled and knowledgeable employees who have a real understanding of modern agricultural challenges such as population growth.

Dr Nicola Blackie, course leader for agriculture at WUC, said: “We welcome students from all backgrounds onto our agriculture courses. For me, that is what makes us at WUC unique. Students will be mixing together and learning different skills from each other in the classroom and in the fields.

“Agriculture as an industry will always be in high demand as we’ll always need to feed people, which is why there are so many jobs available once they finish their course. Agriculture is now considered to be more science-orientated than it once was and the latest developments in areas such as technology make it a hugely appealing subject area for college and university students.

“It is estimated that the industry needs an additional 60,000 people between 2010 and 2020 and employment opportunities are available in roles with advisers and suppliers, as well as buyers and processors, which all need a firm understanding of the industry.

“Many people also begin by trying out one of our short courses first as it has always been a secret passion of theirs. We would always encourage people with a curiosity about farming to come along to one of our events and discover more. It’s a growing trend and it’s fantastic to see more people appreciating the role agriculture plays with our economy in the south-east and beyond.”