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Minister announces a new Honours Degree in Horticulture for Northern Ireland

Dr Konstantinos Xyntaris, Senior Horticultural Technologist at Greenmount assessing how high value winter strawberries might be produced with supplementary lighting in NI.

Horticulture students can now, for the first time, study for an honours degree in Northern Ireland, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots has announced.

The degree, which is the highest level of horticulture qualification available here, will be delivered at CAFRE’s Greenmount campus and is validated by Ulster University (UU).

“Horticulture offers very rewarding and varied careers that impact so much of our modern world, so I am delighted that for the first time we can offer this course to students who are interested in developing a career in this growing profession,” said Minister Poots.

“This long-awaited development presents an exciting opportunity for all those interested in management and senior technical level careers in the Northern Ireland horticulture industry.

“Degree level education is especially relevant today considering the growing importance and complexity of environmental issues and the need for increased productivity, resilience and supply chain connectivity in the agri-food industry,” Minister Poots added.

Up until now the highest level of horticulture qualification available here has been the Foundation Degree.

From September 2021, students who have completed the Foundation Degree at CAFRE will be able to progress through bridging studies, to a one year full time course to then achieve an Honours Degree in Horticulture. The programme will also be available part-time over two years.

CAFRE Director, Martin McKendry said:

“The opportunity for students to progress to an Honours Degree programme is timely for the Northern Ireland horticulture industry as it facing an exciting time ahead. The opportunity to grow more locally is being recognised within Government Policy and we are pleased to play our role in encouraging and supporting the horticultural sector.”

Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University also welcomed the launch of the new degree programme which will complement CAFRE’s existing portfolio of Foundation and Honours degrees, all validated by Ulster University.

She said: “The CAFRE/Ulster University Strategic Partnership which started back in the early 90s, continues to grow from strength to strength. This new BSc (Hons) in Horticulture follows the recent BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Agriculture, the first Bachelor’s degree in agriculture offered by CAFRE in 108 years, and validated by the University. We are pleased to play our part together, to educate the leaders of tomorrow across the agriculture, horticulture, food and equine disciplines so that the region might respond successfully and sustainably, to sectoral growth.”

For further information on the new Honours Degree, e-mail the CAFRE Higher Education Course Manager for Horticulture, David Dowd at:

CAFRE develops and delivers programmes of education, training and knowledge and technology transfer which develop the competences and values of people entering and already working in the agri-food industry.

CAFRE has been offering Higher Education (HE) courses in Horticulture since 1998. CAFRE moved from a BTEC Higher National Diploma to deliver the Foundation Degree (FdSc) programme with Ulster University in 2005.

The FdSc is a two year programme consisting of three taught semesters and one semester of work experience (in the second year of full-time study).

CAFRE has just now revalidated a revised FdSc with UU and added a new one year articulation pathway leading to an Honours Degree. On successful completion of the Foundation Degree students will now be able to progress via two bridging studies modules to enrol on the Honours Degree programme. The bridging studies starts in May and will be delivered over the summer period. The Honours programme can be taken over one year by full time study or by two years part-time study.

Developing an Honours Degree in Horticulture is within the CAFRE and DAERA Strategic plans and aligns with the DAERA ‘Knowledge Framework’. In taking forwards this initiative CAFRE/ DAERA is recognising that investment in this programme is a valuable means of achieving its own key policy goals and is recognising horticulture as a strategically important sector in Northern Ireland

Further details on CAFRE courses in horticulture can be found at:

Ulster University is a modern, forward-looking institution with student experience at the very heart of everything we do. Our high-quality teaching, informed by world-leading research across key sectors, boosts the economy and has a positive impact on the lives of people around the world.

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