Gloucestershire university launches foundation degree to fill skills gap in equine management

A shortage of skilled people in the equine management industry has prompted a Gloucestershire university to launch a brand-new foundation degree programme to help encourage people into the sector and fill in the skills gap.

By Kaleigh Pritchard  |  Published
The Royal Agricultural University is launching a brand-new qualification to encourage students into the equine management sector — in order to tackle a skills gap.

The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has announced the launch of its latest qualification — a foundation degree in equine management — to address a skills gap within the industry.

The new two-year programme at the Cirencester university is already recruiting students for September 2024, offering the opportunity to build their knowledge and skills in horse care and management, covering all the required practical skills for the British Horse Society's level three groom's qualification, as well as teaching them equine science and business management skills.

Course leader and lecturer in animal science at the RAU, Tracy Bye, said: 'We know that there is a staffing crisis across all parts of the equine industry at present. Looking after horses is a real labour of love — usually involving unsociable hours and hard physical work — and historically there have been issues with pay and conditions which have turned people away from the industry. 

'Graduates of BSc equine courses usually have aspirations for more senior roles rather than the more ‘hands-on’ positions where a lot of the current staffing issues are seen. They may work in these roles as a gap year, but it is not where their long-term aspirations lie which then leaves a gap in the longevity of these roles.'

The new course has been designed to blend the scientific aspects of equine anatomy, veterinary science and nutrition, as well as the practical horse experience with students completing weekly practical duties at the university's Fosse Hill Equestrian Centre — plus lessons in managing a business successfully.

For those who complete the foundation course, there's the option to top up with an extra year to achieve a full BSc honours degree qualification.

The RAU has also refreshed its three-year degree course in equine science and business for its September intake, where students can include elements of either agriculture or bloodstock and performance horse management into the course.

Graduates from this course have gone on to work at prestigious companies such as Plusvital Equinome, Haygain, Tattersalls and the National Trainers Federation.

Tracy concluded: 'By introducing our new foundation degree, we are aiming to produce graduates who are not only able to take on supervisory or leadership roles within the practical side of the equine industry, but who can also influence and build a better industry for those coming up behind them.'

More on Royal Agricultural University

More from Home