Students celebrate at graduation ceremony

School’s out . . . Bagpiper and NZ certificate in agriculture graduate Neil Cowie led another year of students graduating from Telford college last week. PHOTO: NICK BROOK

About 90 certificates and awards were finalised at the annual graduation ceremony at Southern Institute of Technology’s (SIT) Telford agricultural college near Balclutha last week.

A parade of faculty and students were led by a pipe band from the campus’s technical workshops past the iconic stone house to the hall, followed by a cavalcade of farm vehicles.

Guest speaker Alison Broad was master of ceremonies, which began with a karakia, the national anthem and an address by SIT executive director Daryl Haggerty.

‘‘People with vocational skills are essential for the agricultural, technological, environmental and sustainability goals of New Zealand’s future,’’ Mr Haggerty said.

He outlined Telford’s recent building and development, including water service and earthquake strengthening, and said 95%-98% of Telford’s graduates were moving directly to employment or further study.

As an employer, and by engaging with local business and community interests, Telford had contributed about $508 million to the regional economy since 2018, he said.

Telford had experienced challenging times in recent years.

Following the collapse of Taratahi Institute of Agriculture in 2019, the college came under SIT auspices and benefited from their fees-free-courses option.

Marketing manager Josh Borgia said there were ‘‘about 40 graduates’’ in 2021.

‘‘[Last year] we 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

Almost all of the student accommodation had been occupied, and more than half of this year’s trainees were women.

Telford has capacity for about 300 students and it’s 2023 course prospectus continues to promote the fees-free scheme.