Ara Institute of Canterbury concluded a review of its Primary Industries lower level programmes today.
Affected staff attended a meeting with managers in Timaru this afternoon to receive the report “Ara Institute of Canterbury, Science and Primary Industries Outcomes and final report following Consultation (Primary Industries Level 1 to 3 Programmes)” and to discuss the outcomes.
Considerable research, including consultation, into the needs of the primary industries workforce nationally has found a decline in demand for low level qualifications and increasing demand for high level qualifications.
The level 2 and 3 programmes under review are running on an average of one staff member to 1.75 equivalent fulltime students (EFTS), with some of the programmes not running at all due to lack of enrollments.
Consequently, the decision has been made to cease the delivery of five primary industries programmes at Ara and disestablish six positions from the current staff resourcing in this area.
Chief Executive Kay Giles believed the report addressed the feedback of the Tertiary Education Union, which made the only submission received during the consultation period.
“We have listened to our industry and government partners and will continue to work with them to provide excellent and relevant primary industries training in South Canterbury, however I believe there is no alternative to the conclusions reached in the report,” she said.
In contrast, demand for higher level qualifications has been strong. The New Zealand Diploma in Agribusiness Management increased from 15.7 EFTS in 2016 to 33.7 EFTS this year and is expected to grow to 50 EFTS by the end of 2017.
Additionally, farming operations located at Washdyke, which is leased by Ara, ran at a loss of over $30,000 last year, excluding income and costs associated with training delivery. The New Zealand Diploma in Agribusiness Management is not reliant on the Washdyke facility. This programme is delivered through a blend of online, face-to-face and projects based on workplace activities. Ara will engage with stakeholders, particularly the Timaru District Council, to discuss options and determine the future use of the Washdyke facility. Ara will continue to meet its obligations under the lease until the end of the lease term in January 2019.
The report notes that marketing spending on promoting Primary Industries for the start of year was greater than the combined spend on all other programmes being offered at the South Canterbury campuses. The marketing spend per EFTS on Primary Industries was greater than the Ara average spend per EFTS.
In 2016, Ara commissioned research on the needs of the primary industries workforce in Canterbury. That report drew the same conclusions around decreasing demand for lower level qualifications currently offered by Ara.
The programmes to be disestablished are:
Ara will now work with impacted staff as they transition from delivery of these programmes.