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Katie Insch, BA (Hons) Rural Business Management

Katie Insch, 2:1 BA (Hons) Rural Business Management, Aberdeen

A new entrant to farming, Katie has worked her way up from an HNC to an Honours degree – as well as holding down a manager’s job, running her farm, helping in her parents’ business, and giving birth to two children – in addition to raising two others.

“Although I was told that people normally go with the intentions of getting the HNC but end up staying four years, never in a million years did I think that would actually happen.”

When Katie Insch started an HNC Rural Business Management course at Scotland’s Rural College, she would never have believed that four years later she would be graduating with an Honours degree.

As a new entrant to farming, the 32-year-old, from Alford, Aberdeenshire, received funding under the condition she completed an HNC in a subject relevant to agriculture.

Four years later, she has not only gained a 2:1 honours degree, but has held down a manager’s job, run her farm, helped in her parents’ business, and given birth to two children – in addition to raising two others.

“My husband and I began farming on his grandparents’ small farm, which had been unused for around 20 years,” she said.

“We were very fortunate to receive some funding from the new entrants start-up grant, and part of the conditions of that were for me to complete an HNC in a subject relevant to agriculture, so straight away I looked at what I could do at SRUC.

“I knew it would be better to cover some business aspects too, so Rural Business Management stood out.  Although I was told that people normally go with the intentions of getting the HNC but end up staying four years, never in a million years did I think that would actually happen.”

When she started the course in 2016, her eldest son Lachlan had just started primary school and her youngest, Brodie, was only 20 months. Two years into her course, she had Angus and in January this year, Ada was born.

“When I wasn’t on maternity leave, I also had a part-time job as well as the work on the farm,” she said. “We have a small flock of sheep and an even smaller suckler herd, so the weekends and evenings are usually when we try and fit in all the farm jobs that need done.

“Continuing with coursework and exams whilst pregnant and with newborns was challenging – I did presentations and exams when the babies were literally days old – but I had good support and thankfully baby number four is the world’s most well behaved baby, so carrying out my dissertation wasn’t as bad as I had feared.”

The support she received from lecturers and classmates at SRUC also helped Katie get through her studies.

“I was able to access most of the information I needed online if I wasn’t able to attend particular classes and the rest of the class were also a big help in passing on information I had missed,” she said. “We were a small group so it was quite nice.”

Following graduation, Katie hopes to do some diversification on the farm when the time is right.

She added: “There are aspects of the course I really enjoyed and particular areas I would love to pursue a career in, but I can’t do everything.”

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