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Writtle University College: Where Equestrians go to Realise their Dreams

Writtle University College (WUC), set in rural Essex, stands out with its specialist, career-focused equine courses and friendly, supportive community. Teaching takes place on a scenic countryside campus, just 10 minutes from the city of Chelmsford and 40 minutes from London.

Since its founding in 1893, WUC has been putting science into practice. Just ask international students Spella Deželak from Slovenia and Nadine Mostert from South Africa. Deželak is a BSc (Hons) Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation student and Mostert is a BSc (Hons) Equine Performance and Business Management student at WUC.

“I have been working with horses for 12 years now. I was originally a showjumper and have competed up to 120cm back at home. About six years ago, I saw an osteopathy treatment on one of my horses and the amazing impact this had on its recovery. This piqued my interest and really was an eye opener for me,” shares Deželak. The Vice-Chancellor Scholarship recipient and a member of WUC’s Equine Academy aims to one day work as an Equine Sports Therapist.

Deželak is a recipient of the WUC’s Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship, awarded to 10 applicants each year with strong academic backgrounds, exceeding the outlined standard course entry requirements. It’s worth 3,000 pounds per annum, applied as a discount from fees for each year of study.

Similar to Deželak, Mostert also grew up around horses and actively competed too. “I have always been around horses since the age of six and I have competed in several competitions throughout my life so far. I developed a passion for the science behind horses and the sport, with an affinity for biology and sports physiology in particular, so I thought why not find out if there was a degree to meet those interests – and indeed there was!” she says.

As one of the oldest specialist institutions in the UK (WUC has been producing leaders in the land-based industries and organisations for 130 years), WUC offers land-based animal, sport and health programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. These include BSc (Hons) Equine Behavioural Science, BSc (Hons) Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation, and BSc (Hons) Equine Performance and Business Management. After completing these, students are ready for their careers and further study, including progressing to the MSc Equine Performance Science. This one-year full-time programme advances one’s equine knowledge, academic skills and research practice to the next level. In all programmes, students learn in a small, supportive and friendly environment that maximises learning outcomes.

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All equine programmes here place a strong emphasis on practical, experiential and career-focused learning. Source: Writtle University College

Mostert can attest to this. “The main reason for my choice of an equine course with a business element was to incorporate two interests of mine into one degree. Not only did I get to learn about the animal I love, but I could also apply what I learned to several real-world business settings, which gave me the vital transferable skills for a career in the industry, or even outside the industry,” she says.

All WUC equine programmes are taught by industry experts and place a strong emphasis on practical, experiential and career-focused learning. This is backed up with a suite of support services, from business start up guidance and digital IT skills for study to peer mentors and impartial careers advice and guidance. Such an approach has helped Deželak and Mostert understand and apply concepts about horse care, management and riding in projects and practical sessions.

“We have always had regular practical classes and, at our request, we were also offered great revision practical sessions every week, which gave us even more hands-on experience. This gave me even more opportunities to discuss any questions I had regarding our lecture material, massage techniques or treatment modalities,” Deželak shares.

For Mostert, her concentration in business management has provided her with opportunities to apply her knowledge and skills to real-world situations. She enjoyed the consultancy projects and working on her dissertation, both of which laid a good foundation to prepare her for potential careers.

“I really enjoyed our consultancy projects, which required us to work with real clients who approached us with business issues that we had to conduct market research on, come up with marketing or operational strategies to improve the business and overcome its weaknesses, and write up a professional report to present back to the client,” Mostert says.

The projects allowed her to develop an array of professional skills, including time management, communication, team working, critical thinking and writing skills. “Another project I enjoyed was my dissertation as I was able to work alongside Dengie Horse Feeds, WUC’s official feed sponsor, to come up with and carry out a novel trial looking at a new way of managing equine obesity,” she says. Her dissertation taught her a lot about the research process and having an industry perspective was extremely useful to see a more direct impact that research has on a potential business need.

Coupling impactful hands-on learning with state-of-the-art facilities at the equine training and development centre, students will have access to a mechanical horse, the Equine Academy Centre as well as stables and arenas. WUC’s Equine Academy provides talented, competitive equestrians with an opportunity to gain guidance and coaching within a recognised horse sport.

“I personally have taken part in the Equine Academy. It has brought me a great deal of new experiences, lessons, and lifelong friends. Everyone is very welcoming and kind, as well as open to ideas and discussions about different aspects of the industry. The university programmes are kept small and are therefore very interactive and friendly,” shares Deželak.

International students like Mostert can bring their horses with them to WUC and choose the livery option. “This may be a very personal experience to me, but my horse was able to live on campus with me and this meant that sometimes he was allowed to be in our practical sessions, where we had the expertise of our lecturers guide me through training, behaviour, nutrition, and physiology that were specifically targeted to my horse’s needs, which I found very insightful and helpful,” Mostert says.

For students who don’t have their own horse, equine courses offer regular practical sessions and hands-on experience at WUC’s specialist equine campus. Student accommodation is available at WUC’s countryside campus. With 14 halls of residence and over 350 rooms, international students will find a home away from home as well as develop to be independent and confident individuals.

Check out the virtual tour of the university here and its scholarships designed to support both undergraduate and postgraduate students studying land or animal-based courses. The Vice-Chancellor International Undergraduate Scholarship is open to all international students (including EU) studying on a full-time undergraduate programme and paying international fees — applications are welcomed from eligible students considering joining WUC in September 2023. To apply, click here.

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