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    First Rabobank scholar revealed

    Posted 16 August 2012

    We believe that young people like Jacob are the key to building a sustainable food and agri-business industry capable of delivering global food security. We look forward to watching him progress in his studies.”

    Rabobank scholar Jacob Irwin

    Harper Adams University College today announced that Jacob Irwin, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland will begin his studies next month as the first Rabobank Agri-Food scholar.  

    This prestigious award is sponsored by Rabobank, the leading global food and agricultural bank, and provides one student with an endowment of £9,000 per academic year of an undergraduate food and agribusiness programme.

    Furthermore, the scholarship includes a 12-month work placement, in the third year of the four-year course, with an agri-food industry partner. The inaugural year will see dairy producer Yeo Valley provide Jacob, 18, with an opportunity to gain invaluable industry experience.

    Jacob, whose father produces poultry in Dungannon, County Tyrone, said: “It is an understatement to say I am delighted to have been awarded this scholarship, which will give me a great start in agri-business, not only by supporting me financially but by helping me to acquire the skills, knowledge, experience and contacts required for my future career in the agricultural sector.

    “The agri-business degree combines my interest in business with my interest in farm animal management,” adds the former pupil of Royal School Armagh. “The support from Rabobank means a great deal to me, as the bank is farmer-owned and finances many agricultural projects. This association will be very beneficial in strengthening my knowledge of finance and its application in the agricultural setting.

    “Ultimately, I would like to have a career in the UK agricultural industry and I have a specific interest in dairy production. As a result, the placement with Yeo Valley will be perfect for me and I very much look forward to it,” said Jacob, who helps on his father and uncle’s chicken farm, and rears his own pigs and cattle. He is also a keen surfer and has been a member of the Boys’ Brigade for 13 years.

    The award was open to applications from prospective students starting undergraduate degrees at Harper Adams in agri-food and agri-business subjects. Jacob was selected to receive the scholarship by a panel comprising Terry Kelly, Group HR Manager at Yeo Valley, Harper Adams business courses manager Pam Whitehouse and Rick Warley, Head of Rabobank Corporate Offices.

    Mr Warley said: “Rabobank is proud to be teaming up with Harper Adams to provide this unique opportunity.  We believe that young people like Jacob are the key to building a sustainable food and agri-business industry capable of delivering global food security.  We look forward to watching him progress in his studies.”

    Jacob will begin his BA (Hons) Agri-Business degree in September and will work for Yeo Valley during his placement year, 2014-15. Mr Kelly from Yeo Valley said: “The standard of applicants was very high and the selection of the successful candidate was difficult. Yeo Valley is very pleased to have been approached by Harper Adams and Rabobank to participate in the first scholarship and we look forward to supporting Jacob, both during his studies and during his placement year. Jacob will be given opportunity to participate in and understand all aspects of the Yeo Valley business, in particular our continuous improvement programme ‘Better Than Ever’.”

    Harper Adams University College students can apply for a range of industry-sponsored scholarships through the Harper Adams Development Trust. Many of these awards offer financial assistance with tuition fees for one or two years of a student’s course, plus a one-year work placement. The Rabobank Scholarship is currently a unique award offering support for each of the three academic years of an undergraduate course, together with the one-year industry placement.  

    Dr Catherine Baxter, University College Secretary, who oversaw the scholar selection process, said: “A very strong field of applications was received for this award, and Jacob has done extremely well to secure this scholarship following a rigorous selection process.  We are extremely grateful to Rabobank for providing this generous award, and to the RASE for supporting the initial development of the scholarship. 

    “We are delighted that Yeo Valley has agreed to provide an exciting placement opportunity for the first scholar and are certain that Jacob will benefit greatly from his engagement with the company.  We are very fortunate to have secured a further two scholarships for eligible applicants wishing to study at Harper starting in 2013 or 2014 and will be continuing our partnership with Rabobank over the next few months to put in place arrangements for selecting the second and third scholars.”

    The scholarship initiative was developed in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) with the aim of increasing the number of talented young people who choose to build a career in the food and agribusiness sectors.

    Henry Cator, Chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, said: “The RASE is very grateful for the opportunity to partner Rabobank and their generous sponsorship of a student scholarship at Harper Adams. The student will be studying Agri-Business and will, in due course, be able to make a valuable contribution to the industry both as a placement student and as a graduate. We are sure that his contribution will support the Society's charitable objectives, ‘Practice with Science’. The challenges of climate change and the need to feed an ever-increasing world population are going to lead to greater concentration on how farmers run and manage all aspects of their businesses using best business practice and modern production techniques. The RASE is delighted to be working with all the partners to support young people to make a successful career in all aspects of the agri-food chain.”

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