updated 01/07/2014 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 01/07/2014 AT 9:00 AM ET
William, 31, traveled up on Tuesday from his home at Kensington Palace in London to Cambridge, around 60 miles north of the capital. There, in a suit and tie, he was welcomed to St. John’s College in the rain as he enrolled for the first day of a “bespoke” 10-week course in agricultural management.
The prince is to take one-on-one classes and join other lectures and tutorials with other students at the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership until mid-March. The CPSL devises tailor-made courses for business people and others. “There will be other students who attend modules of his course, but his course is unique to him,” says a university spokesman.
Drawing on the strengths of academics across the university, William will spend 18-20 hours a week learning all aspects of areas including agricultural policy, countryside governance, farming, food management, rural policy and planning.
“The purpose is to give the Duke sufficient grounding in contemporary issues affecting agricultural business and rural communities in the U.K.,” a palace source tells PEOPLE.
It will give him both a greater understanding of the countryside over which he will one day be king and stand him in good stead when he is head of the vast Duchy of Cornwall estate (which was set up in 1337 to provide heirs to the throne with an income). The portfolio of land, property and investments currently generates an annual income of about $47.5 million, and William will take it over when his father, Prince Charles, 65, becomes king.