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Studying Agriculture in Australia: Ted Hayes 

The Australian Institute of Agricultural Science & Technology


Agriculture in Australia is as sophisticated and diverse as anywhere in the world. That is not to say that there is nothing to learn from outside. Australian agricultural scientists are to be found everywhere in the world, both learning and teaching. This indicates a comprehensive understanding of both Australian and exotic agriculture within our universities. Assuming, therefore, that a student of agriculture wishes to gain the knowledge necessary to work in world production of food and fibre, they could do much worse than spending their undergraduate years in Australia. Typically, a course runs for four years, with honours awarded on performance so that there is no additional honours year. There are also a number of three year courses, which are much more closely related to the management and operation of agriculture itself.

Australia is an advanced first world country with a stable political system, modern infrastructure and communications, and a high standard of living. This means that you will be able to undertake your degree in the certain knowledge that, so long as you perform, nothing is likely to prevent you from graduating. It also means that we have a sophisticated population, which demands a high standard of food and fibre products and increasingly high levels of integration between sustainable production and protection of the environment. You can expect to learn about these both in the lecture theatre and through everyday exposure to
Australian life and public debate.

Courses are strongly science based, giving the agricultural graduate the knowledge and experience required to think constructively, both within and outside their specific area of learning. Course content is extensive, with the opportunity to follow mainstreams like forestry, horticulture, agriculture or natural resource management, with ~any more specialisations within these topics. Courses include: Bachelor of Applied Science in Agriculture, Amenity Horticulture, Equine Studies, Food Science, Viticulture, Wine Science, Food Processing, Wool Science, Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Entomology, Microbiology, Apiculture, Pasture Science, Plant Breeding, Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Plant Protection, Farm Management Marketing and Journalism. In addition to undergraduate degrees, Australian universities also offer graduate diplomas and master level degrees, recognised and highly respected everywhere in the world.

Australia is a very large country, with 7.5 million square kilometers of land mass. However, most of the agriculture, along with a population of just over 18. million, is concentrated in a narrow coastal strip along the eastern, western and south eastern coast, and in Tasmania. The climate varies considerably, from tropical rain forest conditions in the north east, to cool temperate areas in the southern tip of Tasmania. All major crops associate with these climates, as well as with high rainfall, dry land and irrigated farming. There are extensive large scale enterprises for crops such as wheat, cotton and wool, as well as intensive production operations of beef, pigs, chicken and horticultural crops (as found in all other western consumer societies). In addition to producing for domestic consumption, Australia exports a significant quantity of agricultural commodity and specialty produce, earning some $5 billion from grain exports, $3 billion from industrial crops such as cotton and sugar, and almost $1 billion from wine.

Within the different states, there are slightly different emphases and teaching specialisations. A student might choose to go to New South Wales to study horticulture,' South Australia for soil science, or Western Australia for wool production. In many cases, scientific institutes are closely related, both technically and geographically to universities; for example the CSIRO Division of Soils adjoins Adelaide University.

Entrance requirements for Australian universities are of equivalent level to those found in the USA or UK. Applicants with good passes at GCE, A level, STPM Malaysia or the International Baccalaureate, for example, are well regarded by most universities. Student accommodation is of good standard, often in halls of residence - especially in those colleges located in country areas.

Why might a student wish to study agriculture? From the Australian point of view, there are several plusses. To begin with, it is a varied and interesting course; not only does it contain the basics of crop and animal science, but it will also provide many of the complementary skills required to run a profitable enterprise in the world today. So you can expect to have the opportunity to study marketing, computer science, engineering, economics and finance as crucial elements of your course.

Agriculture is an interesting career, with many outlets for graduates. Farming is the obvious choice, but more find their way into government departments of agriculture, with plenty of opportunity to take up a career on the commercial side. 

Author Ted Hayes

The Australian Institute of Agricultural Science & Technology


Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology
PO Box 2271
Hawthorn VIC 3122

Tel: 03 9815 3600

 Fax: 03 9815 3633




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