Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Rueben Hale

The Muresk Old Col­le­gians’ As­so­ci­a­tion claims dwin­dling en­rol­ments at Muresk In­sti­tute have been caused by the State Gov­ern­ment’s re­luc­tance to sup­port cour­ses of­fered at the Northam-based fa­cil­ity.

A Bach­e­lor of Agri­cul­tural Man­age­ment de­gree has been de­liv­ered in part­ner­ship by Charles Sturt Univer­sity and Cen­tral Re­gional TAFE for the past four years af­ter Curtin with­drew from the cam­pus in 2009.

Taught at Muresk’s on-farm cam­pus, com­plete with crops, live­stock, and busi­ness man­age­ment, the de­gree was spruiked as a way for stu­dents to gain a ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in the bush.

But the Gov­ern­ment will stop sub­si­dis­ing the course at the end of the year, say­ing the de­ci­sion was made af­ter con­sid­er­ing an in­de­pen­dent eval­u­a­tion of the de­gree’s financial vi­a­bil­ity. There are now fears as to whether CSU will con­tinue at Muresk.

MOCA mem­ber Gra­ham Storer said the pro­mo­tions and re­cruit­ment of new stu­dents last year was badly man­aged by the gov­ern­ment depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing and im­prov­ing the on­line en­rol­ment web­site. He said it was the only rea­son en­rol­ments dropped off so sud­denly.

“The with­drawal of State Gov­ern­ment fund­ing will mean it is al­most im­pos­si­ble for the course to sur­vive,” he said.

“The goal of the Gov­ern­ment should be to en­cour­age young peo­ple into agri­cul­ture/agribusi­ness and pro­vide them with their pre­ferred op­tion to study at a univer­sity in a ru­ral area . . . or this grow­ing sec­tor will be lost.”

Cur­rent Muresk stu­dents study­ing the BABM de­gree say if the course was to dis­con­tinue, it could un­der­mine Muresk In­sti­tute as a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence in agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion.

A Rim­fire Re­sources re­port in March showed there had been a grow­ing de­mand for work­ers in agri­cul­ture and agribusi­ness in the past eight years.

In 2016, 3600 jobs were ad­ver­tised across Aus­tralia with 500 of these in WA. How­ever, there are less than 600 agri­cul­ture course grad­u­ates across Aus­tralia, with only 50 to 60 in WA.

Agribusi­ness stu­dent Jess Herzer said she came to Muresk af­ter fin­ish­ing high school at Cun­derdin Ag Col­lege.

“I en­joyed the live­stock side of Cun­derdin and I re­ceived a schol­ar­ship to come to Muresk,” she said. “I like it here be­cause it is re­gional, and I am from Northam, so it is pretty close to home.

“I love the crop man­age­ment unit which in­volves going out the pad­dock and watch­ing the crop grow through the dif­fer­ent stages of the growth cy­cle.”

Fel­low stu­dent Hol­ley Crow­ley said she con­sid­ered study­ing agri­cul­ture at Mur­doch Univer­sity.

“I en­rolled as a slightly older stu­dent through their OnTrack Sprint program, and I looked at get­ting in the agri­cul­ture program from there,” she said.

“I talked to other stu­dents . . . (and) was told if I wanted to do agri­cul­ture at Mur­doch, I would be wait­ing un­til at least my sec­ond year be­fore I would even get a taste of agri­cul­ture fo­cused sub­jects, so I de­cided not to study in the city but to come and do the BABM course at Muresk.”

Charles Sturt Univer­sity agribusi­ness stu­dents Jes­sica Herzer, Ulla Cross­ley, Matthew Richards and Jar­rod Bar­ton.

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