A SURGE in students wanting to enrol in agriculture and environmental courses this year has been a promising sign for the rural industry.
Figures released by the Queensland Tertiary Admission Centre identified study areas that had the biggest increase in applicant popularity included agriculture and environment, with 812 first preferences for agriculture and environmental courses.
This was up 9.7% on last year.
Head of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland's Gatton campus Professor Neal Menzies said it was testament to a generation of young leaders interested in tackling future industry concerns.
"The last few years there's been a lot of focus on drought and low commodity prices, whereas recently there's been the recognition of the difficulty to produce enough food for the planet over next few decades," he said.
"It's a great intellectual challenge and I think students view this at school as something interesting and a demanding place to work."
Last year the Dairy Research Centre was officially opened at the campus, joining a number of top-class facilities, making it one of the state's most attractive universities for agricultural students.
"Degrees we've seen a recent and dramatic change in demand for are agricultural science," Prof Menzies said.
Students marking an agricultural science degree as a first preference to study have increased by 60%.
"It's from a fairly small base but it's definitely a step in the right direction," Prof Menzies said.
"Numbers have also gone up for environmental science degrees, with the mining boom partly responsible.
"All industries now need to employ them."
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