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Harper Adams' students pick up prestigious award

Posted 8 June 2006

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FIVE students from Harper Adams University College have been honoured for their outstanding performance while on work placement with renowned businesses.

Each student has been awarded one of the university college’s coveted annual Placement Awards 2005/6.

NatWest Bank Awards were presented to three HND Agriculture students considered to have achieved an overall outstanding performance on work placement while the Andrew Lewis Trophy was presented to two students in recognition of their performance.

The overall winner of the Natwest Bank Award was James Carson, studying HND Agriculture, who completed his placement with Paul Bettson & June Baskerville, Rugeley, Staffordshire.

James, from Down Patrick, County Down, spent the placement on a 600 acre arable/sheep farm with contracting business and a 220 cow dairy farm. Previous work experience included work on the home farm, an 850 acre mixed livestock and arable farm.

Dr Russell Readman, Agriculture Placement Manager at Harper Adams, commented on the award: “The panel of judges were particularly impressed with the broad range of technical and business knowledge, and practical skills developed by James during his placement as well as his positive view of the future of agriculture.”

Second place was awarded to Ben Dixon, a student from Shrewsbury. Ben, who is studying HND Agriculture with Mechanisation, completed his placement on an arable farm in USA’s North Dakota. Previously Ben had gained experience on the home farm, a 200 acre organic dairy/arable farm including an open farm enterprise. Following completion of his HND studies, Ben intends to top-up to BSc Agriculture at Harper Adams.

Aston Briggs, studying HND Agriculture, was awarded third place. Aston, from Strabane, Co Tyrone undertook his placement with Alcan Farms Ltd, Northumberland; a large mixed arable, beef and sheep farm. Previous work experience included work on the home farm, a 200 acre mixed arable and livestock farm. Following completion of his HND studies Aston intends to return to the farm at home.

Prizes of £200, £100 and £50 were awarded for first, second and third place respectively. The awards were presented by Martin Doyle, NatWest Regional Agricultural Manager, at a luncheon on May 25. The college is grateful to NatWest Bank for their very generous sponsorship of prizes for this award.

Sue Bryan and Matthew Harding, both studying BSc Agriculture with Animal Science at the Shropshire College, were jointly awarded the Andrew Lewis Trophy in recognition of outstanding performance whilst on placement. On placement Sue, from Loughborough, worked for Effem Equine, a leading manufacturer of horse feeds in the UK. Matthew, from Nuneaton, worked for PIC, the international leader in the supply of superior pig breeding stock to the global pork chain.

The Andrew Lewis trophy is made in memory of Andrew Lewis, a former student at Harper Adams. The award was presented at a luncheon on May 25 by Sheila Lewis, the benefactor of the trophy, which was first awarded in 1984.

Dr Readman added: “Both students were highly commended by their employers and demonstrated initiative, willingness to accept responsibility and a high level of attention to detail in their placement roles.

“Sue was responsible for setting up and implementing an NIR system for analysing straight and compound feeds; and was responsible for the evaluation of compound feed coatings used by the company.

“Matthew undertook a number of different roles at AI studs in Berkshire and Scotland, and was responsible for collecting data from abattoir studies. He was also included in the project team designing and commissioning a new stud, and was responsible for setting up the equipment and was involved in training new staff and boars.” 

The success of placement within Harper Adams courses was recognised by the recent award of funding to establish a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) which was opened by HRH The Princess Royal on May 8, and Placement Learning is one of the themes embedded in the Centre.

Harper Adams is seeking to strengthen its winning placement formula by offering more businesses the chance to benefit from employing a placement student.

Commenting on the importance of placements, Dr Readman said: “The university college offer courses incorporating a range of placements including Agriculture, Engineering, Rural Estate and Land Management, Animal Health, Veterinary Nursing, Marketing, Business, Countryside and Environmental Management and Tourism.

“Due to continued growth in student numbers the college requires further placements across all areas commencing July 2007. A placement student can benefit businesses in a number of ways. They often bring new ideas and fresh enthusiasm and an up to date knowledge of latest sector developments, new technology and I.T skills.

“Many of our long-term employers have reported that students use their knowledge and skills to tackle projects put on the backburner, and are a cost effective additional staff resource. In addition, businesses can benefit from the latest research being carried out at the college.”

“Feedback I have received from employers has proven that Harper Adams students are highly sought after in the graduate market, and this has been backed up by the league tables published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. They stand out as good team workers who can think for themselves and get on with the job, focus on business issues and solutions and resolve business problems effectively. Many employers use placement as an opportunity to look at prospective graduates at an early stage.”

Professor Wynne Jones, Principal of Harper Adams University College, stated that the tremendous success of our placements has strengthened our partnership with industry. This is reflected by the commitment of employers, as seen through the number of scholarships provided to students at the university college.

Anyone interested in offering a placement in any of the above areas please contact Kathy Smith (Placement Administrator) on 01952 815409.

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