Agriculture students from the University of Reading have had the chance to put their business skills to the test by acting as consultants to a real farm business.
This year, 33 students took part in the well-established scheme, run between the University’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development and Barclays, with 2014 representing the project’s 45th anniversary.
The scheme aims to give students real-world experience in the world of farming business, while also providing help to a genuine agricultural enterprise with some ideas about where it might want to apply crucial capital investment.
Dr Alison Bailey, from the University’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, said: “At Reading we have understood for a very long time that students need both firm academic knowledge as well as real-world practical experience. We believe this scheme, while modernised for today’s world, is as helpful to students and businesses today as it was when it began in 1969.”
This year, the dairy enterprise on the Farley Estate near Reading was the host. The students developed plans for redevelopment of the dairy and opportunities for diversification into areas as varied as offices, stabling, hosting polo events, kennels, storage, residential lettings, a day spa, renewable energy, and a centre for dairy excellence.
Students visited the farm and spoke to its managers, acting as real consultants, before preparing business plans with ideas for future development of the farm.
The detailed plans were reviewed by academic staff at Reading, the host farmer and Barclays managers, before Barclays staff interviewed the students to decide whether or not the proposed developments would get the go-ahead to receive funding.
Karl McConville, Barclays Relationship Director, Corporate Banking, South said: “Barclays is committed to supporting young people to make the transition from education into the work place. We welcome the opportunity to support students into employment, by using our local expertise and business knowledge to provide opportunities to learn with real life business scenarios and understand the requirements of a financial provider.”
The successful exercise shows the longstanding commitment of the University of Reading to give students the skills they need to succeed after graduating, the mutual benefits of collaboration between business and the University, and the longevity of Barclays’ support for both businesses and young people entering the world of work.