All those years spent balancing farm budgets or marketing grain or cattle may soon count towards completing the University of New England’s innovative new Bachelor of Agrifood Systems degree qualification, which requires students to get to work down on the farm before they get a degree.
Starting in early 2014, the course is part of a ground-breaking new UNE-TAFE New England joint partnership delivering study ‘in the field’ rather than just in the classroom, with work experience and completion of industry training being recognised as prior learning to fast track the study program.
Course coordinator Michael Williams says it’s a common story that many people working in the Ag sector have a long history of work experience and knowledge gained in practical management but no formal recognition for those skills.
“UNE has addressed that challenge by developing a course with TAFE New England which enables people already working in the agriculture sector to convert their on-the-job experience into credit towards a Bachelor of Agrifood Systems, majoring in livestock, cropping, horticulture or poultry production.”
Mr Williams says practical experience is a mandatory requirement to complete the qualification.
“All the theory in the world won’t make a good farm manager unless they have the practical experience to hang that knowledge on,” Mr Williams said.
“UNE Agrifood students will need to acquire on-farm and industry practical experience before and during their studies. Giving a head start to students just starting their career, as well as consolidating and recognising the significant skills of people who have already established a career in agriculture.
“The two year Associate Degree and three year Bachelor courses are designed for the farm employee, the poultry worker, the cotton field manager to complete their studies ‘in-their-field’, at home on the computer and in the paddock, combining their hands on experience with the technical knowledge covered in UNE’s agriculture units.”
Mr Williams says the course offers major benefits to people starting their Ag career and those further along the career path.
“If you’re working anywhere in the Ag-sector, the UNE Bachelor of Agrifood Systems is a way to value-add to the work you’re already getting paid for, to become better at your job and to establish a career instead of simply a job,” Mr Williams.