Record number of women studying ag at Aberystwyth University

Women make up the majority of students studying agriculture at Aberystwyth University for the first time in the institution’s history.

Farming in the UK remains a largely male-dominated industry, but the proportion of female farmers is increasing.

Aberystwyth University said a record number of women started agriculture courses last year, and 59% of all the agriculture undergraduate students at the university are now women.

See also: Opinion: Ability, not gender, is everything in farming

Dr Pip Nicholas-Davies, lecturer in livestock production and head of the university’s agriculture teaching group, said it was an important milestone.

“It’s fantastic to see so many more young women studying agriculture in Aberystwyth who have a real enthusiasm for food, farming and the environment and who will no doubt go on to make a significant impact on the wider sector in their chosen careers,” Dr Nicholas-Davies said.

Inspire others

Second-year student Bethany Harper, from Wiltshire, said she wants to help inspire other young women to choose a career in agriculture.

“I’m not from a farming background, but I did grow up around both horses and dogs.

“I studied agriculture during my GCSEs and I absolutely loved it. I had the bug then, so I carried on studying it at college,” the 22-year-old said.

Aberystwyth University student Bethany Harper's great-grandad Ray, when he was a farmworker in 1963 and (right) Bethany working in 2017

Aberystwyth University student Bethany Harper’s great-grandad Ray, when he was a farmworker in 1963 and (right) Bethany working in 2017 © Aberystwyth University

After working on farms in the UK, the US and New Zealand, Ms Harper set her sights on studying agriculture at Aberystwyth.

“Although I love doing the hands-on work of farming, having a degree opens up opportunities to work in other connected careers, such as roles as a farm manager or agronomist. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to develop further, so I said: let’s go for it,” she said.


Anaïs Bunyan, 20, said it was “absolutely amazing” to see more women in the UK studying agriculture.

“Seeing so many other women on my course, and women holding lectures and classes, is so empowering and definitely feels like a step in the right direction for the agricultural industry,” said Ms Bunyan.

The student from Luton said her love for farming grew after working on a dairy farm and spending two years studying animal management at college.

“Although it was an industry I knew nothing about and had no experience in, the more work I did, and the more responsibility I was given, the more I felt fulfilled by my work,” she said.