- Charles Sturt University partners with Anthony Costa Foundation, goFARM Australia and Australian Farming Services to grow a diverse agricultural workforce with new horticulture and agriculture scholarship and support program
- Ten scholarships a year, worth $15,000 each, are on offer for regional and rural students from a First Nations or low socioeconomic background
Charles Sturt University has partnered with the Anthony Costa Foundation, goFARM Australia and Australian Farming Services (AFS) to launch a new initiative to enhance the horticultural and agricultural workforce pipeline.
The ‘AGcessibility: diversifying the next gen of Agriculture’ program is aimed at young people in rural communities and offers scholarships to First Nations people and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
There are AGcessibility Kickstart Scholarships, worth $15,000 each, for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and AGcessibility First Nations Scholarships, also worth $15,000, for First Nations students.
Scholarships are open to commencing first-year students at Charles Sturt University studying a Bachelor of Horticulture, Bachelor of Agriculture, Bachelor of Agricultural Science, Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management, or Bachelor of Viticulture.
Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon thanked the organisations for assisting Charles Sturt to grow the horticulture and agriculture workforce through this dynamic initiative.
“The structure to this program, incorporating scholarships and human resources, acknowledges the proactive approach that is needed to boost engagement in the agriculture sector,” Professor Leon said.
“The scholarships will remove the financial barriers that exist for prospective students, and the funding for an indigenous engagement officer will be crucial in removing the confidence barriers that prevent some people taking the first step in a new career.”
Professor Leon said the scholarships for First Nations people and people from low socioeconomic backgrounds will join more than $5.5 million that has been committed to our students this year.
The Anthony Costa Foundation, goFARM and AFS have committed more than $1.3 million of philanthropic support to the program and share Charles Sturt’s enthusiasm for growing the agriculture industry to becoming a $100 billion industry by 2030.
Ten students would enter the program a year, with at least half being from First Nations communities. The $15,000 is to be paid in instalments over three years.
It is estimated that one-third of employment opportunities in regional and rural Australia are linked to the agricultural sector and Charles Sturt has identified that 82 per cent of graduates remain in rural areas long-term following graduation.
There is currently an average of four-to-five job opportunities for each university graduate in horticulture and agriculture. Horticulture and agriculture offer a diverse range of career pathways, including agronomy, agritechnology, irrigation management, crop protection, data management, sustainable food production or farm management.
Charles Sturt Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley (pictured, inset) said these scholarships aim to fill current and projected workforce capacity issues in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for today’s youth to enter the rewarding career path that horticulture and agriculture present,” he said.
“The range of options allows for a variety of skills and the combination of a university qualification and work experience is the best guarantee towards a satisfying, well-paid and long-term career.”
The scholarships will be managed through the Charles Sturt University Foundation Trust, which manages gifts and donations to support programs and projects that help research and students to reach their full potential.
Anthony Costa Foundation Board Chair Ms Rhonda Arnott said the Foundation has roots in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.
“The Foundation understands the challenges that the horticultural and agricultural sectors face in attracting staff, as well as the challenges some young people experience in being able to access localised education and obtain the relevant skills, knowledge and experience that will allow them to attain well-paying jobs in regional and rural communities,” she said.
“We hope our partnership with goFARM, AFS and Charles Sturt University helps provide solutions to both of these challenges over the long-term.”
Managing Director of goFARM Mr Liam Lenaghan understands the value and significance of the program first-hand, as an agricultural scholarship helped kickstart his career in the industry 25 years ago.
“Part of goFARM’s purpose is to transform Australian agriculture through investing in people and regional communities, so we see this scholarship as an excellent way to support the future of our industry,” he said.
Australian Farming Services CEO Mr David Armstrong said for the industry to thrive, it needs strong, vibrant local communities.
“We view this scholarship program as an investment in our local community, to allow individuals from that community to achieve their full potential, adding value to their community and hopefully as employees in our business.,” he said.
Charles Sturt offered more than 650 scholarships in 2022, valued at approximately $5.5 million. In addition, in August it was announced that Transgrid will provide $2 million during the next seven years to support the education of 100 civil engineering students at Charles Sturt in Bathurst.
An additional $4 million was announced in September to assist first-year students with the costs of accommodation at Charles Sturt’s six regional campuses.
Applications for the AGcessibility scholarships are now open on the Charles Sturt website. Applications close at 9am on Friday 25 November.