William Morris

William Morris was born in Oxford and left school at the age of 12. He initially repaired bicycles for a living, but as a result of his exceptional engineering skills he was soon constructing his own new models, followed by motor bikes and, finally, the Morris motor car. He was very successful in business and was awarded the title Lord Nuffield.
Having learned a great deal from visiting Detroit to study how Henry Ford ran his company, he recognized the benefits of travelling to see best technical and business practice in other parts of the world. He gave substantial sums during his lifetime to various charitable bodies. One of the beneficiaries, in 1943, was the newly created Nuffield Foundation.

Nuffield Foundation

The initial goal of the Foundation was to provide support for health and social well-being, including Fellowships and Scholarships in medicine. By 1947, at the suggestion of Jack Maclean, then Vice-President of the NFU, these objectives were widened to include agricultural advancement following on from the major war effort in agriculture. This led to the launch of the very first Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 1947.

Subsequently, the Trust in the UK has become a separate body, independent of the Nuffield Foundation and is registered as a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, following its incorporation in July 2003.

Objectives of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust – UK

The stated objectives of the Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust in the UK are to promote agricultural, horticultural, forestry and countryside management education in the United Kingdom and abroad, and to advance the standard of farming (including the food supply chain, horticulture, forestry and countryside management) in the UK through the provision of Scholarships to persons who fulfil the conditions set out by the Trust to enable them to study the practices and techniques employed anywhere in the world.

Since 1947, the Trust has grown from its UK roots to become a truly international organisation thereby creating a strong network of some 700 Scholars in the UK and over 1,600 worldwide.

International Dimension

In 1950, the Nuffield Foundation had started a parallel scheme covering farmers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Kenya, the Rhodesias and Tanganyika. These Scholars came to Britain for a study period of 6 months. In 1976 the Foundation required the Commonwealth countries still in the scheme (these by now were only Australia, New Zealand and Canada) to fund their own awards.

The Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust in Britain agreed to take on the management of Overseas Scholars in Britain. All Overseas Scholars were required to spend at least 6 weeks in the UK and Europe where they would take part in a comprehensive programme arranged by the Trust. Scholars first visited the EU in Brussels in 1980 as a part of their briefing and this programme has been expanded steadily over the years. During the period 1976-80 management of the programme was devolved to national organisers. Zimbabwe subsequently re-joined and France joined the scheme in 1982. Ireland joined in 1996, and in 2014 the Netherlands was admitted as a full member.

Irish Scholars

Irish involvement began with an initiative by the Irish Farmers Journal, the Irish Farmers Association and the FBD Trust. The first two Irish scholars were selected in 1996 and 2 scholarships were awarded each year thereafter until 2000. In 2001 the Golden Jubilee Trust became a new sponsor and the number of scholarships was increased to three per annum. Subsequently Peter Daly Trust, LIC Ireland, Dairymaster, Meat Industry Ireland and Aurivo provided sponsorship. Currently, up to 7 scholarships are awarded annually. One51 was a sponsor for several years up to 2010.

One of the first Irish scholars, Jim McCarthy, became Chairman of the Irish Scholars group in 2001 and was succeeded by Padraig Walshe (2004 to 2006), Thomas Horgan (2006 to 2010), Derek McCabe (2010 to 2012), Bill O’Keeffe – Cork (2012 to 2016), Geoff Dooley (2017 to 2019) and Karen Brosnan (2020 to date). In addition, Nuffield Ireland has acknowledged the consistent drive and support of a number of industry leaders by making them Life members of Nuffield Ireland: John Grogan, Matt Dempsey, Michael Berkery, and Matt Ryan. In September 2006 the Nuffield Association in Ireland was established as the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust Limited, a company with no share capital, limited by guarantee.

Beginning of Nuffield Ireland

From 1996 until 2011, Irish scholars travelled to the UK Annual Nuffield Conference to present their reports. By 2011, Nuffield Ireland had grown to almost 50 scholars, and it was mutually agreed from that point on, that Nuffield Ireland would arrange its own conference to receive the scholars’ reports. Nuffield Ireland is part of Nuffield International, which includes the Nuffield organizations in 8 countries.

There are 83 Nuffield Ireland scholars, beginning with 2 scholars in 1996, up to the 7 new scholars for 2015. Of these, 67 are male and 16 are female. The number of scholars chosen each year has varied, depending on the quality of applications, and the number of sponsors.

Scholars are currently awarded a grant of €14,000, towards the cost of travel, and the preparation of their report. They are required to participate in the Contemporary Scholars Conference with the other international scholars, participate in one of the Global Focus Programmes and also to travel for a further 3-4 weeks individual study in the course of their scholarship.

When a scholarship is awarded, the scholars enter into a contract with Nuffield Ireland, setting out the terms and conditions for award of the grant, particularly referring to the value of the scholarship, the travel conditions and the study report requirements.

Nuffield Ireland – Legal Status and Structure

The Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust Ireland Limited is a company limited by guarantee. It was registered on 27th September 2006, CRO number 427190.

Brief Overview the Evolution of Nuffield Ireland, by Matt Dempsey

“As Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Paddy O’Keeffe had a long standing view that attendance at the Oxford Conference held annually in early January was a good start to the New Year. On taking over as Editor, Paddy advised me to take up where he left off. During one of the conferences in the mid ‘90’s, I bumped into Stephen Bullock, the Secretary of the Nuffield Foundation. He indicated that he thought an application to join Ireland with the Nuffield Foundation would be well received. I had been aware of Nuffield because of meeting good people in the sector across the world who had participated in the programme.

At the next Board meeting of the Farmers Journal, I suggested that we take our enquiries further as to the possibility and appropriateness of taking the discussion further. The IFA were highly supportive from day one. We followed up the discussion, between ourselves, the IFA and FBD, we undertook to provide funding for two scholars on an annual basis. Our broad application was accepted. We were pending the possible formation of a separate Irish branch to be part of the UK structure. The interviews to award the scholarships were held for a number of years in Bedford Square in London.

The UK Nuffield organisation had extremely worthwhile, knowledgeable people on the interview panel, while I represented Ireland.

They were enjoyable, informative occasions. The Irish Farmers Journal paid for all travel, etc. involved and John Grogan our Company Secretary acted as Administrator. The first two awards went to Padraig Walsh and Jim McCarthy in 1996, both of whom we were to hear a great deal of in the future. This process continued for a number of years. With joint funding from the Irish Farmers Journal, the IFA and FBD, we met all our commitments but in addition, our scholars were extremely capable and presented excellent reports as a result of their study tours. The first presentation of reports by Irish scholars took place at the annual Nuffield meeting held in Cheltenham in 1997.

As time went on, the number of Irish scholars increased, new donors came on Board. Quality was high and administration efficient. Eventually we – the UK and myself – decided it would be appropriate to have Ireland as a fully-fledged member of Nuffield in its own right. I travelled over to the World Congress held that year in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

The notion was formally proposed. I responded on behalf of Ireland. The motion was passed and with a certain amount of ceremony, the Irish flag was unfurled.

Subsequently, the Irish Nuffield organisation grew in substance and reputation. A separate administrative structure was set up as the Irish Farmers Journal bowed out and we are delighted to see Nuffield Ireland go from strength to strength. It is worth noting that the current Editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, Justin McCarthy, is also a Nuffield Scholar so the connections are reinforced”.