A group of Cornish agriculture and countryside students have won places at the prestigious Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, starting in September.

The success follow two to three years of learning their craft at Duchy College Rosewarne, with the college saying that the skills and expertise built up at the college putting them ahead of the herd when it came to applying for their next steps.

Apprentice Ben Cavill is hoping to study Farm Management, as he comes to the end of his placement with prominent potato producer FG Pryor & Son.

Ben, from Penryn, said: “None of this would have been possible without the hard work and commitment of the College agricultural staff who pushed me to do well because they knew that I could. An apprenticeship is an excellent alternative to A-levels and shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential route to getting into university.”

Matthew Wall, who is close to completing an advanced apprenticeship with an arable farmer in Marazion, has also secured a place.

Matthew will be studying Farm and Estate Management with the hopes of following this as a career.

He said: “I am looking forward to the student lifestyle but also enhancing my career prospects by going to university. The work-based course that I’ve just finished gives a really good balance of time spent at work and in College, only coming in one or two days a week. It’s a lot less pressure!”

Amy Sweet, from Lanjeth near St Austell, who has also secured a place, said: “I’ve been at Duchy College for three years as I completed the Level 2 qualification before doing the Level 3 in Countryside Management.

I am going to study a BSc in Land Management and I hope to work as a quantity surveyor in the future. Although I am hoping to come back to Cornwall to work when I’ve finished, I’m looking forward to experiencing new things and meeting new people at university.”

Amy added: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Duchy and it has given me practical skills that I wouldn’t have gained doing A-levels, which makes it more related to farming and the land.”

Fellow student Adam Gale agrees, saying: “I think that doing a vocational qualification is the best way of going to university as it puts you ahead of those who did A-levels and don’t have as much work experience. I am going to study agriculture and farm management and want to work as an animal nutritionist in the future. I’ll definitely miss my teachers at Duchy College and am looking forward to coming back to Cornwall when I graduate.”

University is also calling for those who wish to stay closer to home, with many students finishing their courses this year going on to one of Duchy College’s university degree courses, awarded by Plymouth University. This September sees a new degree offering in the Foundation Degree in Estate and Farm Enterprise Management.

David Carlyon, course manager for the advanced apprenticeships in agriculture, said: “As a College we’re very proud of all of our students who continue to university education, but especially the work-based learners. There is still a stereotype that vocational qualifications and apprenticeships don’t lead to university. This group shows that’s not true, and we hope that they will lead the way for more students in the future.”

Head of Duchy College Andrew Counsell said: “We pride ourselves on providing excellent teaching and support to students of all levels, and nothing shows our success more than students progressing to university education. We wish them all the best in their future studies and careers.”

For more information about Duchy College Rosewarne, call 0845 60 50 455 or visit www.duchy.ac.uk, There will also be an open day on Sunday, June 22, from 11am to 3pm.