If you have an interest in understanding the natural world, a degree in agriculture and environmental sciences will set you on the path for a rewarding career in the field.
While traditional agricultural practises are steadily decreasing, there are still huge opportunities for research and development in the agricultural sector, which remains one of the largest employers worldwide. Choosing a career in these disciplines will mean taking on some of the biggest and most pressing issues facing the world today. From eradicating food-poverty through self-sufficient farming; reducing the environmental impact of agricultural activity; dealing with global warming or going into agricultural economics; these are the key fields to the world’s developing future.
Graduates of agriculture and environmental sciences find themselves with job prospects that break through tradition. With the global agricultural industry worth over three trillion dollars in 2017, graduates of the discipline will not be short of global opportunities. The Asia-Pacific region currently accounts for 19 percent of total global food and agriculture exports and 31 percent of total food and agriculture imports, but with a growing population, urbanisation and demands for higher food quality and environmental concerns, the need for qualified graduates in the coming years will be essential. Australia also presents itself as an interesting case study for graduate opportunities as the economy is dominated by the service industry (agriculture, chemicals, food processing, industrial and transportation equipment, mining and steel), which accounts for 70 percent of the nations GDP and 75 percent of jobs.
Agricultural and environmental graduates will also find that job prospects are far-reaching. Aside from the more obvious roles in farm management, land management and animal welfare, there are also agricultural or economic consultancy roles. These include providing analysis and advice on business, or operational and technical aspects of an agricultural organisation where the knowledge gained from an agriculture degree would be vital. Agricultural and environmental graduates also go into top level roles working with governments and policy makers, researching and writing about developments and trends and new scientific and technical innovations within the industry. It’s important that you tailor your degree to your chosen career path.
Here are three global contenders in the Agricultural and Environmental education…
Situated in northern-central New South Wales, Australia, the University of New England (UNE) was Australia’s first regional university, and offers more than 200 courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree research levels. Located in picturesque Armidale, the university is situated in an attractive rural and bush land setting, home to more than 20,000 current students and 1,200 members of staff.
Over the years the university has been consistently awarded for its student satisfaction. For the 12th year in a row, UNE has earned the top five-star rating from the Good Universities Guide for the quality of student experience provided. The 2018 Guide also awarded UNE five-star ratings in six other categories, including; Teaching Quality, Student Support, Graduate Employment and Median Graduate Salary. Alongside this they have been awarded a five-star rating for the university’s overall experience consecutively for the past 12 years, which is a record unmatched by any other Australian public university.
UNE has three Faculties, including the Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business & Law which includes the School of Environmental and Rural Science. The school offers a wide range of courses for students looking to specialise in agricultural and rural sciences and management as well as courses on managing and studying the natural environment. Highlights of the undergraduate degrees on offer are the Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Business, a four-year joint degree which combines a practical agricultural degree underpinned by science and business. The Bachelor of Animal Science explores how society is dependent on animals for companionship, food production and healthy wildlife, while the Bachelor of Rural Science offers students the chance to solve practical agricultural problems from farming to global scales. Sustainability is the key to a healthy planet, and students studying for a Bachelor of Environmental Science enjoy the hands on practical classes with some of Australia’s amazing biodiversity. A comprehensive list of the degrees on offer at UNE can be found here.
For students looking to continue their studies, the Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business & Law also offers a range of postgraduate research programmes, including the Master of Rural Science, Master of Environmental Science (research) and the Master of Science.
With access to an extensive range of research facilities including numerous laboratories, many of the degrees on offer allow students the experience to travel abroad. Recent expeditions have included destinations such as China, Bhutan, Myanmar and Cambodia, with UNE graduates being highly sought-after in environmental and agricultural industries.
Located in Palmerston North, New Zealand, Massey University is split across three campuses in Auckland, Manawatu and Wellington, with over 18,000 students enrolled across these sites. Having grown from a small agricultural college in Palmerston North, today Massey University is New Zealand’s largest residential university.
The Institute of Agriculture and Environment provides teaching, research and services for agricultural production and long-term environmental sustainability. The department engages in multidisciplinary research into economic and environmental ecosystems, from intensive farming and horticulture to ecotourism and wildlife conservation.
Catering to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, Massey University’s agricultural programme is No.1 in New Zealand according to global rankings. As well as this, the university offers the only veterinary programme in New Zealand, accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and ranked 23rd in the world.
Prospective undergraduate students can choose from a number of degrees including the Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce, the Bachelor of Agricultural Science or a Bachelor of Science, with each degree course offering a number of majors or endorsements allowing students to tailor their learning to reach their wider goals.
Massey University has such a leading reputation within the agricultural and environmental field, the university is confident that graduates will be in-demand, with many students finding employment before even graduating.
Founded in 1877 and considered to be the most prestigious university in Japan, the University of Tokyo is located in the Bunkyo district, at the heart of the modern, new-age city. Ranked 34th in the world the university is home to ten prestigious faculties split, across five campuses.
The Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences covers a broad range of subjects under the umbrella of 12 departments. These cover everything from ecosystems; arable land, forests and aquatic environments, through to the sociological approach to the relationship between nature and human activities. The department’s current research activities focus on these relationships which are studied on a global scale.
Here, every department is an affiliated research centre at the forefront of world-class research. Current research programmes include applied Biological Chemistry and Biotechnology and Global Agricultural Science, which takes an international approach towards interdisciplinary research in an effort to resolve problems facing developing countries today.
For the majority of programmes offered, Japanese language proficiency is required, however some lectures are also taught in English. Despite this, the school still attracts an international student body with over 180 international students currently enrolled. Globally the university was ranked 14th worldwide for graduate employability, offering fantastic prospects for graduating students.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International