Most agriculture students are women at Aberystwyth University for first time
Aberystwyth University student Bethany Harper’s great grandad Ray when he was a farm worker in 1963 and on the right Bethany herself working in 2017.
15 October 2021
Women make up the majority of students studying agriculture at Aberystwyth University for the first time in the institution’s history.
Academics have hailed the development as an ‘important milestone’, which comes as the United Nations marks the International Day of Rural Women today (15 October).
Agriculture in the UK remains a largely male dominated industry, but the proportion of female farmers is increasing.
Aberystwyth University broke new ground last year when a record number of women started Agriculture courses there.
22 year old Bethany Harper, who hails from Wiltshire, is in her second year studying for a degree in agriculture at Aberystwyth University. She said:
“It’s fantastic that so many women are now studying and working in agriculture. Not only can us women do a man’s job; we can also promote and inspire the next generation of young farmers.
“I’m not from a farming background, but I did grow up around both horses and dogs. I studied agriculture during my GCSEs and I absolutely loved it. I had the bug then, so I carried on studying it at college.
“I then spent two years working full time on a mixture of farms in the UK, the US and New Zealand. It was a fabulous experience and gave me an opportunity to see so many different things.
“Obviously, the pandemic affected everything, so I spoke to my parents about going to university. Although I love doing the hands-on work of farming, having a degree opens up opportunities to work in other connected careers, such as roles as a farm manager or agronomist. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to develop further, so I said: let’s go for it. Aberystwyth is a great place to live, and I can still work on a farm while studying.”
Anaïs Bunyan is 20 years old and from Luton. She is in her second year studying for a degree in agriculture at Aberystwyth University, and said she was delighted by the news
“It’s absolutely amazing to see this many women studying agriculture and working in the field. It’s really great to see more women stepping forward in this traditionally male dominated industry.
“Farming is not in my family, but I’ve always grown up with a love for animals; my parents always told me the importance of respecting animals and the world around us.
“I spent my 2 years in college studying animal management, I was handed an opportunity to work alongside a friend on a dairy farm and slowly my love for farming grew. Although it was an industry I knew nothing about and had no experience in, the more work I did, and the more responsibility I was given, the more I felt fulfilled by my work. I wasn’t sure about going to university at first, but seeing Aberystwyth’s stunning views made me think to myself: if I get the grades I’ll go, and I’m so glad I’m here!
“Seeing so many other women on my course, and women holding lectures and classes, is so empowering and definitely feels like a step in the right direction for the agricultural industry.”
Dr Pip Nicholas-Davies is a Lecturer in Livestock Production and current head of the Agriculture teaching group at Aberystwyth University. She added:
“This is an important milestone for us. It’s fantastic to see so many more young women studying Agriculture in Aberystwyth who have a real enthusiasm for food, farming and the environment and who will no doubt go on to make a significant impact on the wider sector in their chosen careers.
“A degree in Agriculture from Aberystwyth provides these women with a broad skills base in business and environmental management, animal nutrition, agronomy, soil science, systems analysis and research and the career opportunities this opens up to them is limitless.”