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    Mitchell Cockerell learning new skills at Longerenong College.

Tertiary possibilities for Wimmera education evolution


State Government funding for Longerenong College near Horsham has reignited speculation about the potential of tertiary institutions offering undergraduate courses in the region.

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the region was perfectly poised to move up a gear in education provision, especially in agricultural and environmental science, health and hospitality fields.

She said diploma, certificate-level and other trade-training qualifications on offer at institutions such as Longerenong College and Federation University’s Wimmera campus were a well-established story.

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But she added that there was now an obvious opportunity to continue an education-industry evolution in the region.

“When you start offering bachelor or master’s degrees, particularly in fields where there are workforce shortcomings, it can change the whole dynamic of a community and accelerate growth and development. It has the potential to be a regional game-changer,” she said.

“And the timing has probably never been more right for some serious government backing to help make it happen.” Ms Kealy said the expanding world of agricultural technology was a fitting stablemate for environmental, ecological and geological science, especially in a region where the study subjects were a living part of everyday life.

“Major demands of the future will be finding ways to feed the world, for us to become self-sufficient as Australians and protect and capitalise on social and natural assets in an environment of climate and landscape variability,” she said.

“In the Wimmera we are already keenly tuned in to this concept. We live and work in an ideal study subject area, which has for many of us always been part of our everyday lives.

“There is also a fundamental shortage of highly qualified mental-health practitioners, and again we are also clearly seeing the implications of this in our part of the world and other regional areas. 

“We could, in reality, become the Victorian headquarters for education in this field if there was enough political and industry will.”

Ms Kealy said Longerenong College was already providing an industry-leading example of hands-on learning.

She also added that Wimmera Trade Training Centre at Horsham College was across the road from Federation University’s Horsham campus, where many classrooms were empty, primed and waiting to fill with tertiary students in some field.

Ms Kealy said undergraduate study opportunities in the Wimmera did not necessarily need to follow traditional university formulas.

“It might include a collaboration of various institutions and some online study elements,” she said.

“But the truth is, the foundations for something new and exciting to happen are already there. If nothing else, it’s worth a new and serious exploration of possibilities.”

EDITORIAL: Tertiary doors opening

The entire November 25, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 25, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!