Balclutha’s Telford agricultural college may be on the way to full recovery, thanks to growing enrolment numbers this year.
Southern Institute of Technology’s (SIT) Telford campus has experienced challenging times during recent years, before it came under SIT in 2019 following the collapse of previous overseer Taratahi Institute of Agriculture, near Masterton.
However, Telford marketing manager Josh Borgia said with ‘‘about 40 graduates last year’’ and 76 students already enrolled in this year’s fees›free courses, things were looking positive.
‘‘I think there was a perception that Telford was closed. SIT has been looking after Telford for two years and in that time we’ve focused on rebranding and all forms of advertising, with three dedicated marketing staff and outreach on social media, schools and agricultural field days,’’ Mr Borgia said.
New Zealand remained an agritech world leader and, with international food and fibre markets continuing to underpin the economy, Mr Borgia said the future was bright for young people who wanted to enter primary industries, and for the institutes that trained local people to become custodians of the nation’s food security.
Pam Haycock is one of a majority intake of female students this year, and is serious about her studies.
‘‘Whatever happens, people keep eating. Without farmers there’d be no food at the supermarket.
‘‘That’s a huge responsibility I want to be a part of,’’ she said.
Telford campus’s full capacity is 300 students.
Mr Borgia said almost all of the student accommodation was occupied, and more than half of this year’s trainees were women.
He said Telford’s role extended beyond the formal courses.
‘‘Most of our students are school leavers, away from home for the first time. We’re very careful with our responsibility in helping them navigate their new independence toward full adulthood.’’
Clutha Mayor Brian Cadogan, who was instrumental in the battle to keep Telford open in 2019, said he was delighted to hear the college’s positive news.
‘‘Telford’s always been one of the jewels in Clutha’s crown and always worth fighting for. It’s great to see their potential re›emerging with these promising student numbers.’’
› Telford’s always been one of the jewels in Clutha’s crown and always worth fighting for. It’s great to see their potential re›emerging with these promising student numbers.
— Clutha Mayor Brian Cadogan