Although studying for a degree could be costly, it would prove to be a phenomenal investment in later life, new graduates from Reaseheath College heard.

Speaking at the Nantwich, Cheshire, college’s Faculty of Higher Education (HE) graduation ceremony, Principal Meredydd David said that an independent analysis had shown that spending £40,000 on course fees and living expenses would bring in nearly a third of a million pounds during a career.

And he revealed that 94% of Reaseheath graduates who completed their degree last year were in related employment at a starting salary of £21,000 within six months, thanks to the specialist, technical training, industry skills and experience they acquired at college.

Land-based and associated industries such as food processing and manufacturing made up the country’s largest manufacturing sector, contributed over £100 billion a year to the economy and employed 16% of the UK workforce. This meant there were fantastic career opportunities available within this sector for ambitious and well trained young people.

Reaseheath’s HE faculty had grown rapidly due to demand and currently had 700 undergraduates studying for degrees such as equine, agricultural and animal science, landscape design, food technology,  dairy technology, engineering and countryside, adventure sports and rural events management.

As well as those following the conventional ‘A’ level route, a significant number of students were mature learners who wanted higher qualifications to help with career progression or to change careers. The National Student Satisfaction Survey showed a level of student satisfaction which was well above average.

Meredydd also outlined the £50 million investment which had resulted in the campus having some of the best specialist facilities and resources in the country, many of which were built with input from industry. This approach ensured that Reaseheath provided the educational opportunities and experience that would give graduates the competitive edge.

A £9million National Centre for Horticulture, the Environment and Sustainable Technology had been opened on campus less than a year ago, along with new science laboratories across campus.

Reaseheath’s Zoo had been expanded significantly to accommodate a greater range of animals and the campus farm had benefited from a £1 million investment in cutting edge technology including automated and satellite controlled equipment.

A further £31million would be spent over the next two years on projects such as new halls of residence for 300 students, an Advanced Agricultural Technology and Engineering Centre, a new sports centre with sports science laboratories and an extension to the Higher Education Centre.

 The graduation ceremony, held in St Mary’s Church, Nantwich, celebrated the success of over 100 graduates who had successfully completed degrees validated by Harper Adams University. Animal management undergraduates on University of Chester programmes graduate at Chester Cathedral in November.

Guest of honour was Sally Gunnell OBE, a former international elite athlete who remains the only woman ever to hold four major track titles concurrently – Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth.

Fourteen graduates were singled out for special recognition for the excellence of their studies:

  • Michelle Hand (Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research in Equine Science)
  • Rosemarie Lee (Academic Excellence Award in Agricultural Science)
  • Jake Baker (National Skills Academy Award: Best Academic Student)
  • Peter Clark (Society of Dairy Technology Award: Best Student Project)

The Dean’s List for academic excellence

  • Katie Gibson (Foundation Degree in Rural Events Management)
  • Balazs Szalisznyo (Foundation Degree in Dairy Technology)
  • Mark Forrester (Foundation Degree in Countryside Conservation and Recreational Management)
  • Molly McSheehy (Foundation Degree in Equine Science and Management)
  • Gemma Cameron (BSc (Hons) Equine Science)
  • Zoe Greenwood (BSc (Hons) Equine Science)
  • Thomas Lewis (BSc (Hons) Landscape Design and Management)
  • Laura Cartmell (Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design)
  • William Parkes (Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design)
  • Anna Tyler (Foundation Degree in Garden and Landscape Design)