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Students welcome guest lecturers for farm business module built upon real-life scenarios

Posted 18 May

Cathy Meredith teaching farm administration

Cathy Meredith teaching farm administration

Harper Adams University farm business students this week received a two-hour guest lecture about farm administration and accounting from Cathy Meredith MBE - Head of the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries & Administrators (IAgSA)’s Education and Training Programme.

The final year students, from the FdSc Agriculture, BSc Agriculture with Farm Business Management and BSc Agri-business courses were introduced to the work of IAgSA then given an introduction to some farm admin basics – including book-keeping – before a live, interactive session that saw them work on sample accounts.

Senior Lecturer Wyn Morgan said: “Guest lectures and visits enhance the student learning experience here at Harper and I strive to include both in every module I lecture on. They allow me to bring industry experts into the classroom and thus expose students to different perspectives and approaches. I was delighted when The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries agreed to deliver the last session of the year – a fitting high point to the end of another academic year!”

Cathy Meredith works as co-ordinator for Herefordshire Rural Hub, which provides support and a sign posting service to over 1500 rural and farming businesses in the county. This is complemented by the delivery of training and information events to farmers and farming groups.

Student Jo Higgs, 22, from Mid Wales, said she found the farm business module highly beneficial, with Cathy’s session being a highlight.

She said: “It’s vital for students to learn about running farm business in order to progress in the industry. The module covered all aspects of farm business finance and the paperwork involved.

“The farm secretary guest speaker was my favourite part of the course, with an afternoon spent looking at different types of recording keeping. It was great to be able to have a go at inputting invoices. This was very useful, especially as I am interested in pursuing farm secretary work in the future.

“We also recently heard from bank managers as guest lecturers – it was very interesting to learn about the industry from their point of view and to gain an understanding of rent tender situations.

“Overall, I love that the module was delivered in a manner that is both interesting and current. We gained many practical skills that we can already feed back into home farms.”

Fellow student Callum Potts, 20, from the Scottish Borders, added: “I have really enjoyed the farm management assignment module. It has been taught very well with all theoretical knowledge being backed up with practical methods, including the great opportunity to build a fully integrated set of budgets.

“The Bank Managers meeting was great fun. It was a chance to get inside information on what they’re looking for and how to present our plans.

“Wyn has based our assessments in a real life situations and made it very enjoyable. All the skills I have learned on this module are going to be very easily transferred to my family farm at home.”

The Farm Management Assignment module Callum and Jo have been studying is assessed by undertaking a rent tender exercise. This mimics a real life scenario with a farm visit and then a final interview with bank managers as well as a land agent – a role taken on by Wyn Morgan.

This year NatWest provided four bank managers from Shropshire, Staffordshire and Herefordshire, for the interviews; Andy Tuck, Gemma Bourne, Simon Eldridge and Andy Rigby; with some of Wyn’s lecturing colleagues drafted in as additional land agents.

A guest speaker from Promar International dairy and financial consultants, Nigel Davies, also delivered a session in 2016-17.