Hartpury is not just an educational institution; it’s a force for good in Gloucestershire

Not only a Director of the FEP, Stuart Emmerson is also Director of Business Development at Hartpury College & University, and in this month's blog he discusses the impact this leading specialist facility has on its students and the local area. 


As the largest employer in the Forest of Dean, we’ve become a key stakeholder in the Forest Economic Partnership and also work closely with regional organisations like the Gloucestershire Federation of Small Businesses, Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, and Circle2Success.


One of the key drivers of our impact on the local area is without doubt the strong network of business partnerships we’ve nurtured. The institution collaborates with local businesses and industries to provide students with valuable real-world experience through internships, work placements and research projects. This symbiotic relationship not only benefits the students by enhancing their employability (97% of our graduates are in employment, further study or other purposeful activity according to the latest Graduate Outcomes survey), but also contributes to the businesses and local economy by fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity. 


Our Hartpury Sports Business Hub has been a standout success, matching students with businesses and charitable organisations to carry out consultancy projects in areas like diversity and sustainability. These students have made an impact, while business has benefited from the extended Hartpury network of resources and talent. 


In addition to business partnerships, the diverse range of further and higher education opportunities help to bridge skills gaps and ensure knowledge transfer. 4,600 students are studying a range of A-levels, diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in subjects including agriculture, animal, business management, equine, sport, and veterinary nursing. Many of these programmes have been written with the help of business, using events such as curriculum co-creation events where local business leaders have an input with regards to the course content. This ensures that students gain the skills required and valued by business, and ensures that students succeed in today’s competitive job market. New courses are being developed in line with the needs of industry, including BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences, BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, BA (Hons) Business Management, BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Crop Science, MSc Biodiversity Conservation, and MBA Business Administration, all set to welcome their first cohort of students in the coming months.


Many students are from the local area, with others choosing to source employment and settle in the Forest, ultimately contributing to the socio-economic growth of the Forest of Dean. 


We work with businesses to train and upskill staff, tapping into the experienced teaching staff and facilities at Hartpury to deliver short courses. We’ve been using funding to address specific skills needs in agriculture and agri-technology, identified as priority sectors in the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), led by Business West. This has resulted in an Agri-Tech Short Courses for Professionals project, aiming to upskill currently employed professionals. There’s also ongoing work to implement a web-based app that supports the development and management of digital skills in the agricultural sector, and the creation of the Gloucestershire Agri Food and Rural Navigation Network that will aim to provide  a platform to bring together opportunities for upskilling, business, support, and innovation.


The Hartpury brand is renowned for its Sports Academy, and the world-class dual career pathway that enables students to study whilst they train and compete in their chosen sport, has received widespread recognition. This year, Hartpury Sport has celebrated its most successful year to date, with 19 national titles and championship victories across a multitude of sports. The partnership with Gloucester Rugby and the creation of the Gloucester Hartpury women’s rugby premiership team has ensured women’s rugby is well and truly on the map. In turn, matches held at the Hartpury Stadium make for great family-friendly events. Our annual equestrian events are also popular days out with the NAF Five Star International Hartpury Horse Trials being a true celebration of the great outdoors in the stunning countryside we’re lucky enough to have on our doorstep. These events are more than just a great day out, as they attract visitors from outside of our region as well as providing commercial and networking opportunities through activities like sponsorship and branding rights. We have a really varied range of commercial opportunities that also include venue hire for things like training conferences or away days.


Community engagement is very important to us and our social responsibility is something we take seriously. We actively participate in a range of community projects, outreach programmes, and sustainability initiatives that aim to improve the quality of life for the residents as well as preserving the natural beauty of the region. For example, our agriculture students are involved in planting trees and hedges as part of the Treescape Project, while our sport students are delivering PE lessons in local schools. We welcomed the Knife Angel sculpture earlier this year to help highlight the importance of reducing knife crime, and will be a sponsor of the Active Bystander Conference this summer, held at Hartpury.


These are just some of the ways our staff, students and facilities are having an impact on the region we're proud to call home. If you haven't already, I cordially invite you to explore the ways you can be part of Hartpury and join us in making the Forest of Dean a great place to live, study, work, and play.