ANALYSIS OF DIVERSIFICATION EFFORTS IN AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION
Keywords:Agricultural education, choice of major, socioeconomic factors, Canada, Czech Republic
Study of agriculture enjoys less popularity over time in most of the developed countries, including Canada and the Czech Republic. Analysis in this paper provides interesting findings about activities of agricultural universities to increase enrollment into their programs. While the study is focused on Canada, it is possible to draw implications also for the Czech Republic as many of the characteristics pertaining to the education and agricultural sectors are similar. Enrollment into educational programs in agriculture in North America has been steadily declining in the last several decades. While the overall share of agriculture on national gross domestic product has also been falling, the need for qualified people in agriculture is still eminent as the shift to sustainable agriculture appears to be one of the key priorities of governments in the US and Canada. One of the ways how to facilitate interest of prospective students to study agriculture is to diversify the programs through offering of more major options. It is important to study the motivation and other stimuli for the choice of major in order to adapt the educational programs and attract more students. In the paper, factors influencing the choice of major are studied by analyzing survey data from the only agricultural college in Atlantic Canada. The results show significant differences in the socio-economic background among the prospective students based on the choice of major. For example, students interested in social sciences much more appraise more choices of major than students in biophysical fields. Based on the findings from the analysis, several recommendations are made. It is suggested, for example, that for students interested in biophysical sciences, sport plays an important role and thus, appropriate promotional campaign about recreation and sport facilities of a post-secondary agricultural educational institutions should be conducted. Analysis in this paper may serve many educational institutions in agriculture as a guide how to deal with existing or potential decline in enrollment by diversifying their major portfolio using appropriate promotional campaigns.
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