Longerenong college will become the first education provider to offer a Certificate IV in Agriculture and Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management to international students, following the successful application and inclusion on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
Longerenong will run the courses for foreign students from next year in response to demand.
It will mark a different agricultural education offering from those currently available to international students in Australia.
“There are other institutions with opportunities for international students to do a course in agribusiness but this is the only place where there is a mix of hands-on work, through the Certificate IV and agronomic and agribusiness skills with the Advanced Diploma,” said Longerenong head of campus John Goldsmith.
“The options aren’t there for international students in agriculture at a vocational level.”
On a broader level, international education is booming in Australia, with Federal education minister Simon Birmingham saying the industry is now Australia’s third largest export sector.
Mr Goldsmith said Longerenong wanted to participate in this growth, with the focus on attracting students from Asia, with China and India early targets.
“Everyone knows about the massive populations in these two countries and the massive opportunities for expansion.
“These opportunities extend to agriculture and there are plenty of people in these countries looking for a career in ag and to get the relevant training.”
Mr Goldsmith said the course provided a good fit between practical skills and theory.
“Students will learn the hands-on skills essential to working on a farm such as how to operate a GPS on a tractor or sprayer, through to agronomic theory that will hold them in good stead with farm decision making.”
Becoming a CRICOS training provider will allow us to share our knowledge and experience, nurture the farmers of the future and support the agriculture industry on a global level.”
He said he hoped agricultural education providers may be able to increase the numbers of international students enrolled.
“International students are a big part of our education system as a whole yet they are generally under-represented in our sector, hopefully we can change that as we know there are the jobs out there for graduates after they finish.”
He said in order to retain students, the initial focus would be to target students from only a few countries initially.
“The research shows retention rates are much better for students if they have a strong peer support network around them.”
He said Longerenong planned to accept 40 international students over the next two years, with the first intake of students expected in February 2018.
Darren Webster, chief executive of Skillinvest, the training provider that runs Longerenong College, said the international program would be in addition to current services.
“The international student intake will not affect our ability to provide places and opportunities for our local students and farmers.”