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July 2009 Issue
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Agriculture degree reflects changes in rural sector

 Agricultural Science

The new three-year Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences degree will offer a combination of laboratory training and field work at both Waite and Roseworthy campuses.

The changing face of the rural sector and an impending global food crisis has prompted the University of Adelaide to offer a new agricultural degree more relevant to the industry.

From next year the University will merge its existing Bachelor of Agriculture degree with the Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science) degree, based predominantly at the Waite Campus.

The merger would give students a more scientific approach to agriculture without sacrificing the practical strengths of the existing course at Roseworthy, said the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Bob Hill.

"The new three-year Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences degree will offer a combination of laboratory training and field work at both Waite and Roseworthy," Professor Hill said.

"The Waite Campus is one of the premier plant research facilities in the world and our students will be able to take advantage of that."

Veterinary science, animal science and practical agronomy classes will still be taught at the Roseworthy Campus, which is experiencing a surge in student numbers for the animal-based degrees.

"We have no intention of divorcing the agriculture students from Roseworthy but we need to respond to industry needs for a more scientific approach to agriculture.

"In recent years agriculture has failed to attract sufficient students across Australia. Part of that may be due to the drought but part of it is because the courses need to be more relevant," Professor Hill said.

"Agriculture is critical to the future of the world and with the impacts of climate change and an impending global food crisis on the horizon, it is critical that we train students in a different way to meet these challenges."

The decision has received widespread support from the rural sector, including the Lucas Group, an agribusiness consulting firm specialising in recruitment.

Managing Director Geoff Lucas said the University's decision to merge the two degree programs will give staff and students more resources.

"Falling enrolments demanded a compromise and the University has responded in a positive way," he said. "It is up to the industry, not the University, to put more money and resources into promoting agricultural education because otherwise we will fall behind the rest of the world."

The new program will broaden the agricultural career path available to the University's graduates and includes a number of interstate field trips and a 12-week internship.

"The Waite and Roseworthy campuses are recognised as centres of excellence in agricultural science and this reputation underpins the new Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences," Professor Hill said.

The program will train students in the physical, biological, technological and economic bases of modern agricultural systems, with graduates equipped to solve industry problems and apply new technology in their areas of specialisation.

Story by Candy Gibson

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