From the Vice-Chancellor: Our future in agriculture
While the focus of agriculture is changing, it remains a cornerstone for education and research at University of Adelaide.
We are seeing a wonderful revitalisation of both the Waite and Roseworthy campuses as the University's investment in infrastructure and research capacity is realised through state-of-the-art facilities and bold plans for the future.
Capitalising on a long tradition of excellence in agricultural research and teaching, we are building on these strengths and developing an environment that will encourage and support the next generation of students and academics.
This direction, starting with a restructure of the undergraduate agricultural degrees and a firm commitment to major capital works, and culminating in record levels of competitive research income, has helped to strengthen the University's reputation as a internationally recognised centre for agriculture.
This was highlighted at the recent openings of the Waite Research Institute, further cementing its well-deserved standing in plant research, and the first of five general public veterinary health centres at Roseworthy. It clearly demonstrated the University's resolve to keep plant and animal sciences at the forefront of our academic agenda.
From a resource viewpoint, Roseworthy has the facilities, equipment and land to effectively teach all of the practical and field aspects of agriculture including broad acre farming. Students benefit enormously from the unique combination of field and laboratory experience, which is enhanced by a range of industry internships and placements across Australia.
The establishment of the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and the new veterinary health centres will further attract research and teaching interest in Roseworthy at a time when the region is preparing for significant growth in population, industry and infrastructure.
Yet as we acknowledge the success of our research and education outcomes and our world-class facilities, we are acutely aware of the responsibility that we share with the community in ensuring that the agricultural sector is well supported for the long term.
A fundamental key to this viability is quite simple - undergraduate students.
Looking ahead, one of the greatest challenges facing the University, and more importantly the farming sector, is offering an attractive learning pathway for young people in agriculture. While postgraduate study continues to grow in agriculture, undergraduate enrolments have remained relatively constant in the past few years. However, an overarching shift in student interest in science has the potential to erode numbers in coming years.
This is fuelled by an unfortunate and persistent misconception that job prospects in the industry are uncertain.
Our agricultural graduates continue to achieve some of the highest employment outcomes across the University. The demand for our students is strong and the prospects look even brighter.
Imparting this message to our young people, the local community and the media is critical. Ironically, from the most challenging of environments come the most extraordinary and unexpected of opportunities. This is especially so in agriculture, where the industry relies heavily on the development and application of research that will help to solve some of the most pressing global issues including food security.
The University, the agricultural industry, governments of all levels and the public must work together to ensure that the needs of the sector, and the communities that are sustained by farming, are met today and into the future.
PROFESSOR JAMES A. McWHA
Vice-Chancellor and President