The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) is hosting a major open day for applicants and would-be students next week on Wednesday, April 5 at Greenmount Campus from 3pm until 8pm.

Greenmount Campus is located in Co. Antrim – close to the north-eastern shore of Lough Neagh. The college, which is a few miles from Antrim town, attracts students from all over Northern Ireland and the border region.

For some specialist courses, it attracts students from all over the Republic of Ireland.


Students pictured on the college’s farm

According to a college spokesperson, its courses provide the “necessary knowledge and skills to begin or further a career in the agri-food and land-based sectors”.

He explained: “Courses combine lectures and tutorials with practical sessions, allowing students to apply what they have learned to real decision-making situations, while assignments and case-studies teach students how to solve real life industry problems”.


Students assist with silage harvesting at the main campus

At Greenmount Campus, courses are offered in agriculture, horticulture, floristry, land-based engineering (agricultural service engineering) and veterinary nursing. Some are full-time; others are run on a day-release basis. CAFRE says that these programmes are “highly practical and business-focused”.

Further Education courses

Further Education (FE) courses include apprenticeships, Diplomas and Extended Diplomas which are “hands on”, with students spending some time out of the classroom – learning skills associated with their discipline.


One of the land-based (service) engineering workshops at CAFRE


Another of CAFRE’s land-based engineering workshops


A ‘functioning’, cut-away training tractor, which is used for land-based engineering training

Work experience is part of all FE programmes, with some students being placed as far away as New Zealand.

Higher Education options

At Higher Education (HE) level, CAFRE offers a BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Technology – jointly provided by Queen’s University Belfast and CAFRE – and Foundation Degrees in ‘Agriculture and Technology’ and, also, ‘Horticulture’. These are validated by Ulster University. All courses, says CAFRE, have been developed in consultation with employers and industry representatives.

Work experience also figures in HE courses. While local agri-food businesses offer a range of work placement opportunities, some students opt for overseas placements; Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and the USA have proven popular, according to CAFRE.

HE agriculture students are also involved in the management of a college farm enterprise during their studies; one option is the ‘cream’ dairy herd – it is claimed to be one of the top-yielding milk recorded herds in Northern Ireland.

Meeting EU representatives

Each year HE students, on the Honours Degree programme, go to the European parliament in Brussels where they meet EU representatives and find out about how EU policy affects Northern Ireland.

The College takes part in an annual exchange programme with Kildalton College in Co. Kilkenny. There is also a long-established student exchange programme with Michigan State University in the USA.