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Report2021Open access

DRAFT Synthesis report on soil science in European Higher Education

Villa, Ana; Fahlbeck, Erik; Barron, Jennie


The European Joint Partnership “Towards climate smart sustainable management of agricultural soils” (EJP SOIL, is a European 5-year effort to strengthen research capacity and new knowledge on climate adaptation and mitigation for agricultural soils. This survey is supporting by providing a baseline on the current state of soil science in European Higher Education institutions (HEI). This was done through a survey to 274 HEIs in Europe. A total of 86 complete answers were received where every EJP SOIL country was represented with at least one response. Preliminary results showed that only 10% of the HEIs had a dedicated soil science department. The majority of soil science is embedded in a department where environmental sciences, agricultural sciences and earth sciences are the main academic topics. Respondents reported an increased enrolment at BSc, and no change for MSc and PhD. Mixed trends could be seen for specific countries and universities, with both increases and decreases in student enrolment. Traditional lecture based teaching dominated soil science teaching and learning activities, both at BSc and MSc levels. However, results suggested that study programs are evolving to include more generic competences as well as active learning methods (e.g. problem-based learning, case studies). Still, at BSc level the proportion of courses that did not have any computer/modelling component was about 1/3. Top 3 priorities for internationalisation were to i) attract students from abroad, ii) provide more opportunities to send students abroad and iii) develop strategic research partnerships. Finally, respondents’ perception was that job opportunities for soil science students have mainly increased in the past ten years.


baseline survey; Europe; tertiary education; capacity building; climate smart; agriculture

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eISBN: 978-91-576-9840-7
Publisher: Department of Soil and Environment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences