Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from the Institute of Horticulture

  1.  The Institute of Horticulture (IoH) is the professional body representing the discipline of Horticulture in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. The Institute's members pursue careers in throughout production, environmental and social horticulture. The Institute is a member of the Biosciences Federation (BSF) and an Affiliated Society to the Institute of Biology (IoB).

  2.  The IoH has been party to the formulation of the submissions made to this Inquiry by both BSF and IoB and supports them. The IOH, however, provides the following additional information and views specifically with regard to the lack of provision now made in the UK for the study of Horticulture as a discipline in the higher educational sector.

  3.  Over the past 10-15 years 75% of the UK's provision for the study of Horticulture and Horticultural Science in research lead universities has disappeared.

  4.  The incorporated colleges with affiliations to neighbouring universities provide a tactical response to the loss of research based higher educational provision with, for example, courses for students of micro landscape design and management, arboriculture and turf science.

  5.  The nation is now failing to supply sufficient applied science graduates capable of providing the strategic vision needed to ensure the continuation of a viable discipline of horticulture. This supply underpins the industry sectors exploiting the business opportunities presented by the control of plant growth and reproduction. These businesses are an essential part of national wealth creation and safeguard an assured continuation of fruit and vegetable supplies, the sustainable management of the fabric of our urban and rural public green spaces and application of plants and their products for social welfare and well-being.

  6.  By contrast, the Government is making substantial financial provision to support its recognition of the importance of horticultural products in their contribution to national health, welfare and well being. The "5-a-day programme" funded by the Departments of Education and Skills and Health identify the opportunities that the consumption of fruit and vegetables make to reducing cancer and coronary diseases. Through the Commission for the Built Environment (CABE)'s commitment to the importance of urban green space the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister seeks to enhance and sustain the physical and mental welfare and well-being of our population.

  7.  These products of horticulture cannot be made available sustainably without the necessary scientifically educated staff specialised in the discipline of Horticulture who are required for middle and upper management. Skills gaps have been identified across the discipline of Horticulture and they are now at their most critical in the national shortage of scientifically qualified strategists needed to fill middle and upper management ranks in all aspects of the discipline.

  8.  Measures aiming to increase this Nation's supply of science based horticultural graduates are urgently required.

  9.  The Institute, in line with Government policy on openness and Science and Society Select Committee recommendations, are pleased for this response to be publicly available and, with permission will place a version on and in the Institute's journal The Horticulturist.

  10.  Should the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee require further information or have queries regarding this response then they should in the first instance address these to: Mrs Angela Clarke, General Secretary, The Institute of Horticulture, 14/15 Belgrave Square, London SW1 8PS; email: .

February 2005

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