Busting the myths on agriculture studies

patrick_evansIn 1986, less than a tenth of Australian farmers had some form of further education; 25 years later, that number was close to a third. 

It’s a fair bet that, 25 years from now, it will be more like three-quarters. As farming practices evolve, and become ever more complex and high tech, formal qualifications will be needed like never before.

But what sorts of people will be getting them? And at which universities will be they be choosing to study? There are many big myths about agricultural degrees which our data just doesn’t support.

Myth 1. Agriculture is just for country students

Modern farms are about a lot more than cattle and tractors. They’re about agribusiness and agronomy, crop rotation and biotech, water management, complex machinery and more. Drones and robots are beginning to enter the picture, and plenty of huge corporations are already there. The world’s population is growing and needs to be fed. ‘Future farming’ is already big business.

According to the National Farmers’ Association, recent statistics reveal that for every agricultural graduate these days, there are 2.5 jobs available to choose from. So should we really be surprised that city kids want a few of them? The Good Universities Guide estimates bachelor degrees in agriculture are split roughly half and half between students from the country and those from metropolitan areas.

Myth 2: You need to go to a regional university to study agriculture

Not only are many agriculture students from the city these days, quite a few of them never actually leave. When it comes to recent school-leavers, the University of Sydney is the largest enroller of agriculture students in New South Wales, while the University of Queensland attracts most of the enrolments in Queensland.

In Victoria, the University of Melbourne is the largest enroller of Agriculture students, with more than 360 in total. But all eight universities here offer agriculture degrees, or at least agriculture-related specialisations in broader degrees such as science or arts.

Agriculture is an industry worth more than $200 billion and offers over 4,000 jobs per year for tertiary trained employees, a statistic that is poised to increase. Eager to attract students, city universities are embracing the idea of teaching agriculture as an opportunity rather than a chore.

Myth 3. Regional universities aren’t as good as metropolitan universities

So are regional universities up to the challenge? How do their agricultural courses compare to ones taught in the cities?

According to our data, they hold up very well. When it comes to graduate outcomes and teaching quality, five of Australia’s eight best universities are regional, while regional universities fare just as well as city ones when students rate the overall quality of their educational experience.

Agriculture has an exciting future – and Australia’s universities are an active part of it.


Patrick Evans is a Content Writer for the Good Education Media and hails from Yea in country Victoria. Patrick is passionate about supporting students from rural backgrounds and ensuring that country areas are being tapped into by higher education providers as a source of quality candidates. Learn more about Patrick.

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