26 May 1998
Agricultural colleges forced to diversify
AS the lifestyle and finances of those living in the countryside have changed dramatically in recent years, so too has the role of the agricultural college.
With the agricultural workforce declining by 60% in the past 30 years this sector has changed dramatically and agricultural colleges are being forced to diversify.
Courses in floristry, interior design, animal care and organic farming have been developed alongside the more traditional courses which have become increasingly technical.
Some agricultural colleges, which can no longer afford to operate as a single entity, have been forced to merge with general further education establishments or have teamed up with higher education establishments.
There are now fears that these bigger institutions will sell off the valuable land and property of agricultural colleges and cut their specialist programmes.
A feature in Guardian Education uses Bishop Burton College as a shining example of diversification. It now offers courses in conservation and ecologically friendly countryside management, rural studies, leisure and tourism.
It has also created the National Centre for Pig Industry Training, producing 9,000 pigs for the nearby Malton Bacon Factory. It has also become a major centre for Equine Studies.
- The Guardian 26/05/98 page 13 (Education supplement)