The Carbery Group is an international dairy, flavours and nutritional ingredients company headquartered in Ballineen, Co Cork. It is owned by four Irish co-operatives – Bandon, Barryroe, Drinagh and Lisavaird.
The group is now offering one post-grad student a scholarship in partnership with University College Cork (UCC).
The selected student will study a master’s of science (MSc) in Co-operatives, Agri-Food and Sustainable Development at UCC’s Business School. A valuable work placement with the Carbery Group will also be a part of the scholarship.
A unique programme
Commenting on the launch of the scholarship, Carbery CEO Jason Hawkins says: “The co-operative ethos is fundamental to the Carbery identity and how we operate.
“We are delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with UCC and to work with Cork University Business School to support students in pursuing this unique programme, which give participants a deep understanding of co-operatives, sustainable development and the agri-food system.
“We look forward to welcoming the student selected to Carbery when the time comes.”
Speaking on behalf of UCC, Professor Thia Hennessy, Dean of Cork University Business School says: “The scholarship is indicative of the evolving nature of this relationship as we confront the challenges associated with placing sustainability at the heart of vibrant communities.
“By providing students with practical insights into how the Carbery Group is working to create sustainable local economies, we will both be preparing MSc Co-operatives, Agri-Food and Sustainable Development graduates to thrive in the future economy.”
Nicola Stathers is the marketing and communications project manager at Cork University Business School. She tells Irish Country Living: “The MSc programme has been running for a number of years and has been very successful, with interest continuing to grow.
“There are a wide range of opportunities available with this degree and employers are extremely happy with the calibre of students being produced. It is for this reason the Carbery Group has partnered with us to offer a scholarship”
The MSc in Co-operatives, Agri-Food and Sustainable Development is the only one-year master’s of its kind which integrates co-operative approaches into the study of sustainable development and agri-food.
The master’s prepares graduates to work within organisations which deal with current and future social-economic and environmental challenges, including climate change, collaborative economies and sustainable rural communities.
“Looking at society as a whole, this course aligns with how Ireland and the agricultural economy is evolving in Europe, Nicola says. “Most importantly, this course will prepare students for a career in the agri-food sector and to work directly in sustainability.”
Often, fees and access to financial aid can hinder students from progressing in their education.
“The scholarship is of great financial value to the student,” says Nicola. “The scholarship covers tuition in full to a value of €10,630 and the student will also receive a stipend of €2,500 for work placement with Carbery.”
Caoife de h’Óra from Co Kerry completed the MSc in Co-operatives, Agri-food and Sustainable Development at UCC and graduated February 2021. She shares her experience of the course.
Applying for the course
Having completed a four-year commerce in Spanish degree at UCC, Caoife’s love for sustainability began to grow towards the end of her undergrad degree, which led her to apply for the attend the MSc open day in UCC in March 2019.
“I attended the open day and listened to different speakers and was very impressed, which is why I applied for the Farm Development Co-op (FDC) scholarship,” she says. Caoife successfully won the scholarship with FDC and began the master’s in September 2019.
In relation to the course, Caoife explained that her undergrad class was quite large whereas the MSc course group was a very small close-knit group.
“I also had no previous background in agriculture but lecturers and peers were very helpful in relation to any issues. Lecturers acted as councillors to us,” Caoife explains.
“The course is difficult – every master’s is intense – but at no stage did I feel overwhelmed and I completed the master’s without an agricultural background.
Setting it apart from other courses
Caoife was considering other sustainable development courses but she found that this MSc course in particular combined the two most important aspects in terms of employability; sustainability and agri food.
Before starting the course, Caoife had no experience with co-operatives, which is a significant part of the course.
“At the end of the course, co-operatives was one of my favourite aspects, which I wasn’t expecting,” she admits. “It goes to show you how important it is to have an open mind.”
Caoife is currently working as a strategy analyst within a strategy and sustainability team in Eirgrid. Job opportunities with this course are ample, there are so many jobs within different industries as sustainability becomes an ever-growing aspect of agri-food businesses.
In regards to anyone thinking of applying for a scholarship to study this MSc programme, Caoife says: “Don’t hold back, go for it. It is only one year long there are numerous scholarships available with fantastic companies and countless employability choices after completion.
Applicants must secure a minimum second-class honours grade one in an approved primary degree or equivalent and have received an offer and accepted a place on the master’s programme.
A short personal statement is also required.
Successful candidates will then be shortlisted for an interview with a judging panel, including the programme’s co-directors and a representative from Carbery Group.
The application process is open until 1 August. More information on the scholarship can be found on UCC’s website.