An agricultural college in England has received a funding boost from the UK Government of almost £1 million to develop key facilities and a further £1.4m to purchase specialist equipment.

Hartpury College in Gloucester will launch its initial T Levels in Land-Based Engineering, Crop Production and Livestock Production in 2024-25, with the workshop refurbishment due to complete before the arrival of the first cohort of students.

T Levels in Animal Management/Science and Equine subject areas will follow in future years as they become available nationally.

T Levels are technical qualifications introduced by the Department for Education as a new two-year post-GCSE option to prepare students going into skilled employment.

Students enrolled on the agriculture T Level programmes will benefit from a comprehensive blend of theoretical and applied learning, spending 80% of their time engaged in academic study at Hartpury and the other 20% - at least 45 days - undertaking practical work-based training each year.

The programmes help students to hone their technical skills before entering the workplace or progressing onto further study.

T Level students at Hartpury College will also benefit from facilities such as the Agriculture Digital Studio, launched in May 2023. The studio is a dedicated student - employee - industry facing space where future technologies in agriculture can be explored through agriculture simulators and VR headsets.

In addition, T Level students will benefit from access to the organisation’s Digital Innovation Farm on campus.

This includes the Agri-Tech Centre for smart farming technology in livestock production and Tech Box Park innovation spaces for agri-businesses, as well as a commercial farm.

‘Home Farm’ is not only a commercial farm but is also a teaching farm for students studying college diplomas as well as a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Claire Whitworth, Deputy Principal of Hartpury College said: “We’re grateful for the government’s recognition of our expertise and commitment to advancing vocational training and are delighted to have been successful in securing a share of this UK-wide T Level investment funding.

“By using the funding to refurbish two agricultural engineering workshops, it’ll help us to deliver unparalleled technical education to our students, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to forge successful careers and meet the many challenges faced by the agricultural industry. They will also provide opportunities for industry use outside of term time.

“We’re always looking to align our curriculum with industry needs, and remain poised to contribute to the growth and success of the agricultural sector in Gloucestershire and beyond.”