This year the Plant Sciences bachelor programme has the highest number of new students in 20 years. The programme is one of the strongest growing degree programmes of Wageningen University. The total number of first-year students at Wageningen University grew to about 1500 in 2014. The large number of Plant Sciences students is good news for the university but also for many employers such as plant breeding companies.
Wageningen University is going through a good time. Among students the university scored best university of the Netherlands no less than ten times in a row. The Plant Sciences programme had the highest score of the Netherlands in the ’Keuzegids Universiteiten 2015’. The programme is awarded 94 points out of the possible 100.
And student numbers also showed a considerable increase over recent years: from four thousand in 2006 to over eight thousand in the study year 2014/2015. There are several reasons for this growth. The societal relevance of the Wageningen programmes is undoubtedly an important one.
The growth of the number of students coincides well with the high demand for experts in the Wageningen domains. And this certainly applies for the Plant Sciences study programme. This domain has for years been seeing a dire need for well-educated and trained employees. This turns the record number of 56 first-year students into good news for employers as well.
Looking for plant scientists
Kees Reinink, Managing Director of Rijk Zwaan is indeed enthusiastic. The increasing number of students coincides well with the growth of our company. “We are almost continually looking for plant scientists, starters as well as experienced candidates for positions in breeding and research. We see that the education and training level we need for these positions is rising to be able to tackle the increasingly complex problems in a multidisciplinary way. The position of a plant breeder, e.g., is now usually filled at Higher Education level. We therefore have a strong interest in well-trained plant scientists from Wageningen."
Vacancies for breeders
Also SeedValley, the area in North-Holland between Enkhuizen and Warmenhuizen where dozens of plant breeding companies are based, is warmly welcoming this increasing trend. According to Erwin Cardol, Programme Manager Seed Valley, the sector is showing a strong growth and continually offers a broad spectrum of vacancies to be filled by breeders and other bio-scientific specialists. Cardol: “The rapid growth of the Plant Sciences study programme comes exactly at the right moment.”