University of Reading forced to suspend horticulture course

The University of Reading has been forced to suspend its BSc programme in horticulture and environmental management after successive low intakes of students.

A total of six people signed up for this year's course, prompting university bosses to suspend the programme from 2010. The university's MSc in horticulture will still go ahead, along with the in-depth research carried out by the department.

Dean of the faculty of life sciences Professor Richard Ellis told HW the major problem is that the horticulture industry is "not attractive to 18-year-olds".

"The problem is that the horticulture industry's need for well-qualified graduates is one marketplace, but the marketplace we recruit from — the 18-year-olds — is a completely different one," he explained. "We have come to the conclusion that we at the University of Reading cannot change 18-year-olds' minds alone, so we will be discussing that with the horticulture industry."

The decision was taken by the university's Committee on Strategy for Student Recruitment and Academic Provision following several years where numbers of students signing up for the course ranged from six to 10.

CABE Space head of public space management Nicole Collomb, who has led on the body's Skills to Grow strategy, told HW that the loss of university courses was a major concern.

"Courses are closing because of a lack of applicants and we can theorise about what that might be caused by, but the gut feeling is that it's to do with the fact the jobs aren't out there," she explained. "It is a vicious circle."


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