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NatWest and local farm work with Harper to give students a realistic business scenario

Posted 16 May 2018

“We’ve enjoyed learning about how to apply for a farm tender and it’s been a very realistic assignment process. It was a great experience to work with NatWest and use a real farm, we have all learnt new skills which we will use when we graduate from Harper.”

The girl's group in their interview

Earlier in the year we followed two groups of Harper Adams University students as they began their final year Farm Business Management assignment which was supported by international bank NatWest and a real farm. With the assignment handed in and the interviews completed, let’s find out how they got on.

Meeting deadlines, working with industry, developing plans, financial forecasting, managing risk and team-work were just some of the many skills which final year agriculture students gained throughout the process.

Martha Guise, 20, from the girl’s team said: “We’ve enjoyed learning about how to apply for a farm tender and it’s been a very realistic assignment process. It was a great experience to work with NatWest and use a real farm, we have all learnt new skills which we will use when we graduate from Harper.”

The assignment got underway with a visit to a 120 cow dairy farm in Hinstock on which the assignment was based upon. Students gathered information about the farm and developed ideas in order to create a profitable farm business tender plan. The boy’s team had big plans after the farm visit, but soon realised that balancing rent, tax and income were difficult.

Matt Lee, 20, from the boy’s team said: “It was a challenge trying to balance our finances. We will probably find ourselves in a similar situation in the future when trying to expand a business or farm, so it’s good to have had this experience.”

The assignment concluded with an intense 20 minute interview panel where two NatWest bank managers, the host farmer and senior lecturer Wyn Morgan, questioned the students about their business decisions.

Matt added: “Being interviewed by bank managers and the host farmer made us nervous but we have enjoyed the whole process.”

The teams applied theoretical knowledge learnt in lectures to the assignment and were fortunate to gain inside information from industry representatives. Harper alumnus George Lane, a farm consultant, shared experience from his career as a farm manager. NatWest representatives talked about how proposals are assessed and gave insights into the money borrowing process.

Senior lecturer Wyn Morgan, who oversaw the assignment, said: “It’s been a fantastic opportunity for the students to have a real life experience of preparing a farm business plan and arguing their case when interviewed by the host farmer and NatWest bank managers.

“We are very grateful for the link with NatWest and Jonathan Jackson’s involvement in the assignment, it has been invaluable for the students and they have been able to put their theoretical knowledge into practice.”

The host farmer Jonathan Jackson said: “I’ve really enjoyed the whole process. The students gave a wide range of ideas for the farm and they have grasped how to get an enterprise off the ground and what borrowed money they need and the work which is involved.”

 Read more about the teams here: The girl's blog

The boy's blog

Guest lecturer blog.

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