Fifty years and counting for CAFRE Enniskillen

Seamus McAlinney
Seamus McAlinney

This year sees the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) Enniskillen campus mark 50 years as an important part of the local farming and rural community.

One of three campuses of CAFRE, Enniskillen is responsible for the delivery of equine and agriculture programmes to new entrants and those working in the industry.

The campus is well integrated into the local community and has strong links with many rural stakeholders including the Ulster Farmers’ Union, Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association, Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, Equine Council for (ECNI), British Horse Society (BHS) and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

Since we opened in 1967 as the ‘Enniskillen Agricultural College’ our agriculture programmes have been delivered and developed over the years to meet the needs of local farmers. To date, around 2,000 young farmers have completed their studies at Enniskillen.

This year 50 Work-Based Diploma in Agriculture and Multi-Skilling Students and Apprentices will study at College one day per week with practical training delivered on local farms.

Equine provision

It is 25 years since the college started delivering equine education in collaboration with Fermanagh College. Our first equine students graduated in 1998 and since then approximately 800 young people have qualified with diplomas or degrees.

We keep in touch with 435 of our ex-students through our alumni group and we believe that 94% are either directly employed in the equine industry or working with horses while they earn their living through other employment.

A unique aspect of our provision is that equine technologists work alongside education staff to provide a range of industry Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) projects which meet the needs of both new entrants and those working in the local equine industry.

Through our North-South and East-West links, we assist students and those working in the industry to understand the latest equine research and development undertaken throughout the British Isles.

A wide range of equine programmes is provided at Enniskillen Campus, including full-time programmes at BTEC Level 2 Diploma, BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma, Foundation Degree and BSc (Hons) levels which are validated by Ulster University. Approximately 160 students are currently enrolled on Further and Higher Education programmes delivered at Enniskillen Campus.

We work hard to provide our equine students with a stimulating academic education while they benefit from hands-on experience working with a range of horses in our equine breeding, equitation, racing, farriery and livery units. We have around 70 horses based at the campus.

Students regularly compete in point-to-point races and other equine competitions including the Balmoral Show. They also prepare and sell foals and young horses at international class venues such as Goffs (Kildare), Tattersalls (Meath) and Cavan Equestrian Centre.

Enniskillen Campus receives excellent support from the equine industry. Our industry links were assessed as among the best in the UK in a recent peer review by LANDEX, the organisation which represents Land based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence throughout the UK.

Equine student bursaries

Enniskillen Campus has developed 16 equine student bursaries with the following organisations: Bluegrass Feeds; Boyd Bedding; Coolmore Stud; Danske Bank; Derrinstown Stud; Giltspur Scientific Ltd; Godolphin; Horse Racing Ireland; Horse Sport Ireland; Irish Farmers Journal; Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association; Jockey Hall Stud; NI Horse Board; Showjumping Ireland; The Aga Khan Studs; Tyrone Farming Society.

The Enniskillen campus estate covers 62 hectares, including 12 hectares of ungrazed wetlands, woodland and equine facilities. It is managed sensitively and accredited under the Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) Scheme.

Students who study at Enniskillen campus have the opportunity to receive a rounded experience - educationally, socially and recreationally. As a result of their ‘residential experience’, many students go on to develop lifelong friendships.

For more information about CAFRE Enniskillen visit: https://www.cafre.ac.uk/explore-cafre/enniskillen. Or come along to the open day at the Enniskillen campus on Saturday 21 April, starting at noon.