Cream of the crop
East Lothian student graduates from Scotland’s Rural College
East Lothian student Craig Simpson is one of the first students to graduate with a Masters degree in Agricultural Professional Practice from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).
After completing an undergraduate degree in Agriculture at SRUC, the 24-year-old was keen to continue studying the subject and winning the NFU mutual centenary award in 2016 – which provides annual bursaries for postgraduate students in agriculture – helped cement his decision.
The course, which is run on a part-time, distance learning basis from SRUC’s Aberdeen campus, is aimed at developing specialists within agriculture who have an understanding of both the business and technical aspects of the industry.
“Following my undergraduate degree, I was keen to go into employment,” said Craig, who was born and raised on the family farm in Dirleton. “However, I also wanted to continue with my studies and pass my BASIS certificate in crop protection exams.
“The flexible nature of the course allowed me to study towards this professional qualification and to continue to work throughout my studies. It also offered me the chance to concentrate on the subjects that I enjoyed and was interested in.”
Despite his interest in the subject, the course wasn’t without its challenges.
“It takes a lot of discipline to study alongside work, especially during the busy periods in the agricultural calendar,” he said. “To overcome this, I had to set aside many evenings and weekends for studying. This is a consequence of part-time courses but it shouldn’t put people off studying as it is worth it in the long term.
“The support of my director of studies Dr Jim Thomson was also a massive help to me throughout my studies.”
Craig’s hard work has paid off and he is now working as a technical advisor for agrochemical manufacturer Bayer.
“I hope to continue my development in the crop protection sector and work in the arable industry in future years,” he said.