HISTORY IN THE MAKING; Enniskillen College of Agriculture Prize Day

Article excerpt

THE first agricultural college prize day of the year in Northern Ireland was held yesterday.

And the ceremony, at Enniskillen College of Agriculture saw the graduation of the first cohort of Equine Studies degree students.

"This which represents a significant landmark in the college's history," said principal, Professor Eric Long. "We offer a warm welcome to Professor David Eastwood, University of Ulster, who will confer the degree awards.''

Prof Long said that the college's vision was to be a centre of excellence developing people through further and higher education and lifelong learning to satisfy the current and future needs of the agriculture and equine industries and the community.

"The many challenges facing the agri-food industry in recent years have had a considerable impact on the people development requirements of those entering and working within the industry,'' he said.

"In partnership with Greenmount College and the industry, we have focused during the past year on reviewing and adapting our education and lifelong learning provision in response to changing industry requirements. Our aim is to improve the competitiveness of businesses in the agriculture and equine industries by developing the knowledge, skills and experience (competences) which our students and trainees need to adapt to change and to fully exploit new opportunities. This is the key to future success.''

Prof Long said that the National Certificate in Agriculture (NCA) Course was the foundation of Enniskillen College's agriculture provision with a significant proportion of students progressing to higher level courses at both Enniskillen and Greenmount. "The focus on developing practical skills with this course is complemented by applied enterprise management projects which aim to develop business management and marketing skills. We are indebted to the Enniskillen Branches of the First Trust and Northern Banks who support these projects. NCA coursework continues to be complemented by the opportunities which students have to participate in the Young Handler of the Year Competition, a study tour to Wales and a wide range of extra curricular activities.

"I extend congratulations to Enda McGee who achieved first place and also to all of the other students who were both enthusiastic and well motivated during the past year. I also congratulate Colin Boal who was awarded a very prestigious City and Guilds Silver Medal Award for Excellence for his performance on the NCA Course at Enniskillen College last year. This was the only such award within the entire UnitedKingdom.''

Prof Long said that the National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) Levels 1, 2 and 3 Awards in Agriculture continued to provide a more flexible option to full-time education courses and the Level 3 course provided a popular progression route for NCA students. "Our thanks to the Ulster Bank for supporting a Farm Planning Competition which, in addition to an exchange programme with an agricultural college in France, continues to be an integral part of the NVQ Level 3 course. Congratulations to the Enniskillen College NVQ Level 3 team of Philip Matthews, Harold Robb and Arnold Telford who triumphed over Greenmount Collegeis opposition to win this yearis Richardsonis Fertilisers Dairy Chek Competition. Congratulations also to Gareth Hempton and Stephen McClintock, the first placed NVQ Level 2 and 3 students respectively.''

FThe college's first cohort of Higher National Certificate in Agriculture (HNC) students had, he said, worked diligently to complete all of their class-based modules during the past year. The HNC Agriculture Course also contributed to the College's Lifelong Learning provision through the delivery of individual modules.

"We continue to adopt a more innovative approach to the development and delivery of our lifelong learning provision with the aim of better meeting the needs of people working within the agriculture industry. …