Ara Institute of Canterbury’s proposal to restructure Primary Industries programmes is designed to adjust provision to align with industry demands, Chief Executive Kay Giles said.
“We are disappointed that the Tertiary Education Union has chosen to portray this review as a ‘betrayal of Timaru’, which clearly does not accurately reflect the facts of the review consultation document.”
“It is our responsibility to the Timaru community and the Primary Industries sector to adjust the portfolio to offer the right programmes for the needs of employers. There has been very little demand for the particular programmes that are under review so we need to put our energy where there will be much more value for the primary sector.”
Programmes under review constitute lower level programmes (levels 1-3) where there have been ongoing low enrolments and also limited employment outcomes. The ratio of staff to equivalent full-time students (EFTS) across the five programmes under review was one staff member to 2.4 EFTS in 2016 and is currently one to 1.75 EFTS. The institute aims for an average ratio of 17.5 EFTS per academic staff member although this varies, as would be expected, based on the learning area, health and safety and required resources.
Three programmes were not able to run this year due to numbers of enrolments that did not meet the level needed to provide a meaningful learning experience for students. This was despite intensive marketing and engagement activities for the programmes under review.
By contrast, the programme that has expanded and is now starting to produce meaningful outcomes for the students and industry is the New Zealand Diploma in Agribusiness Management. Enrolments have increased from 15.7 EFTS in 2016 to 33.7 EFTS confirmed to end of April, and are expected to grow to 50 by the end of 2017. This programme is delivered through a blend of online, face-to-face and projects based on workplace activities, e.g. budgets, sustainability and human resourcing plans.
“We need to direct capacity to where it is needed in the sector and we will continue to work with the primary sector to support industry growth”, Giles said. “But there is no evidence, once again, to suggest that this review indicates a wider lack of commitment to the region. If you look across our training offerings we have launched a number of new programmes into Timaru in consultation with our business and community partners.”