4 universities shaping the agricultural landscape 
These 4 universities are shaping the agricultural landscape of the future. Source: Shutterstock

There is no denying the importance of agriculture. As the global population approaches 11 billion by the century’s end, the world confronts crises in climate, biodiversity, malnutrition, and inequity. Urgent action is vital to combat dangerous rates of global warming and alarming biodiversity loss. At the same time, over a third of the world’s population suffers from various forms of malnutrition, including hunger, obesity, or micronutrient deficiency, with the most deprived facing heightened vulnerability to threats to health and well-being. In 2023, over 345 million people face severe food insecurity, more than double the figure recorded in 2020. 

These stats underscore the critical need for skilled professionals in agriculture. They play pivotal roles in sustaining human life and steering us toward ambitious objectives like eradicating extreme poverty and fostering shared prosperity. If you’re keen on being one of them and making a difference, you need a transformative degree. Here are four universities that are shaping the agricultural landscape by nurturing graduates who can make a real impact in the world:

University College Dublin

Source: UCD

Elevate your career in the ever-evolving agriculture and food industries with University College Dublin’s School of Agriculture and Food Science’s comprehensive undergraduate agriculture and food science programmes. Embark on a journey that spans the entire food chain, from farm to table, from production to nutrition. UCD’s science-based programmes provide a solid foundation in the fundamental principles that underpin your chosen discipline, allowing you to explore diverse aspects of the field before specialising in your area of interest.

Through UCD’s immersive hands-on approach, you’ll experience agriculture and food science like never before. Delve into fields, laboratories, and boardrooms, engage with industry leaders through guest lectures, and immerse yourself in real-world industry visits. Undertake internships in your third year – both national and international, a key feature of all programmes, and the aspect that students and employers rate highly. Expand your horizons with study abroad opportunities at partner universities worldwide too.

As a UCD student, you’ll stay abreast of the latest advancements. UCD’s highly research-active faculty bring their ground-breaking findings and international expertise directly to you, ensuring your knowledge and practices are cutting-edge. The school’s legacy of supporting Ireland’s agriculture and food industries has made the country a global leader in sustainable, export-driven food production. With 90% of its food, valued at 19 billion euros, exported in 2022, Ireland’s contribution to the world’s food supply is undeniable.

Join UCD’s prestigious programmes and you’ll join a global network of agri-food leaders. UCD graduates are sought after by Ireland’s thriving agriculture and food industries. Be prepared for leadership roles, both domestically and internationally, that will impact the food we eat and the planet we inhabit. Discover your potential at University College Dublin’s School of Agriculture and Food Science. Learn more about the school’s undergraduate programmes here.

University of Reading

Source: University of Reading

Students thrive in the right environment with the proper support. At the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, aspiring agricultural professionals learn from great teachers and pursue practical degrees. Each pathway offers students a unique opportunity to gain specialised knowledge and skills as they work towards issues aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including sustainable food production, biodiversity conservation, animal welfare, etc.

Founded in 1892, the school has been contributing to teaching and research in agriculture and related fields for more than a century. Its research expertise is woven into its teaching, providing students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in their chosen career or further study.

Look at the BSc Agriculture, for example. It is a top pick for agricultural enthusiasts for good reasons. Apart from being able to specialise in an area within agriculture such as crops, horticulture or livestock, you can also choose from a diverse range of modules in your second and third years that provide you with the knowledge and skills to make an impact and be part of global change.

What sets this programme apart is the emphasis on practical learning. Through engaging modules and immersive experiences, students step into the real world of agriculture. Excursions to local farming businesses, rural estates, and industry-leading organisations like Waitrose’s Leckford Estate provide invaluable insights. Renowned speakers, from agronomists to livestock experts, share their wisdom, creating opportunities for networking and relationship-building.

Students who have completed the Agriculture programme in the last five years have gone into various graduate jobs, including agronomy, livestock nutrition and horticulture. Graduates work with companies including Syngenta, HGCA, NIAB TAG, and Volac.

University of Edinburgh

Source: University of Edinburgh

Nestled in the heart of Scotland lies the University of Edinburgh. It is home to the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, a dynamic hub pulsating with researchers, educators, and students dedicated to unravelling the intricacies of our planet’s health and well-being.

The academy’s study options have been designed in response to the global shortage of skilled leaders in sustainable agriculture. The academy is an interdisciplinary powerhouse, meticulously curating evidence and learning on the interdependence of systems crucial to humanity and the Earth.

A defining feature of the academy is its commitment to addressing Food System and Planetary Health challenges head-on. Through a holistic approach and robust partnerships, it endeavours to fathom the drivers of these challenges and spearhead mutually beneficial solutions.

Students embarking on degree programmes within the Global Academy are not just acquiring knowledge; they are arming themselves to tackle the world’s most pressing issues. Aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, programmes here show you how to optimise economic, environmental, and societal requirements of food production systems. 

The MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare, for example, was initiated by Professor David Wood-Gush, one of the first scientists to investigate the effects of factory farming on animals. The programme is taught by academics and experts from SRUC, the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE) and Edinburgh Zoo. By exposing you to a very broad range of perspectives, you’ll build a strong basis for a career in the field of animal behaviour and welfare in a number of different sectors.

For more than 115 years, Harper Adams agriculture graduates have been excelling in an increasingly diverse, advanced technological industry. Source: Harper Adams University/Facebook

Harper Adams University

Source: Harper Adams University

Helping create a more sustainable future today, especially with the effects of climate change, takes a lot of work and isn’t easy. Harper Adams University, however, is up for the task.

Since it was founded in 1901, Harper Adams has enjoyed a reputation of excellence in agriculturally-focused teaching, working beside the UK’s rural sector to add meaning and relevance to its research and teaching activities. By guiding more than 4,000 students through distinguished undergraduate, postgraduate, research degrees and professional courses, Harper Adams helps students recognise their unique ambitions and apply the tools needed to succeed.

Here, students learn “in the field” on its 494-hectare University Farm that harbours dairy, sheep, pig, poultry and a rich scattering of crops. Since this site encompasses the university’s central campus, students can investigate the entire food chain from farm to fork.

All BSc students must complete an industrial placement as part of their four-year programme, bringing invaluable real-world experience into their future workplaces – as a result, 99.2% of graduates are in employment within 15 months of graduation, the highest in the UK.

Winning the “Career Prospects” category at the WhatUni Student Choice Awards for seven consecutive years further underscores the effectiveness of their practical degree programmes in empowering students to make an immediate impact. This success aligns with the university’s mission of “Together we will make the difference,” as it not only equips students for their future careers but also nurtures their abilities to address global challenges, particularly in sustainability and the environment.

 *Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International