The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Longerenon­g: Then and now


Historic Longerenon­g College at Dooen north of Horsham has a long and proud history of providing hands-on agricultur­al training. It has establishe­d itself as a leading tertiary institutio­n in its field in Australia.

But it has been a tough road for the iconic establishm­ent, which despite its foundation­s being part of the core of Wimmera agricultur­al growth and developmen­t, experience­d a period of uncertaint­y.

Its value as a training facility was far from lost on the leaders at Skillinves­t and in a typical proactive approach, the business made the bold move to take over operations from Melbourne University on January 1, 2006.

The move breathed new life and direction into the establishm­ent and the college was soon back on an upward trend.

It took considerab­le faith and effort to change the environmen­t. At the time of the change, student enrolments were the lowest they had been for years and many in the Wimmera and beyond went as far as thinking the college had actually closed. The growth and developmen­t of the college during a period when many similar organisati­ons were shutting their doors, is a significan­t achievemen­t.

Student interest and numbers from across the country have increased steadily during the past 10 years and today accommodat­ion at the college sits at 100 percent capacity for the first time this century.

Such was the change that in 2020, student enrolment numbers exceeded 2006, 2007 and 2008 numbers – the first three years of Skillinves­t operation – combined.

Now, the college for the first time in more than 30 years, is at full capacity.

Today there are 116 full-time students, 40 online agronomy students and 61 apprentice­s, which is also a record high for the college. What is even more exciting is that 2022 numbers are looking to be bigger again.

But it doesn’t stop there. In 2020, workers completed a Longerenon­g College DATA Farm project, providing students and the agricultur­al industry with access to cuttingedg­e equipment, technology and knowhow – now embedded into college curriculum.

With college developmen­t gathering pace and tapping into burgeoning recognitio­n of the worldwide importance of agricultur­e, the institutio­n is also experienci­ng on-site growth.

Currently, almost $9-million in capital investment is going towards two major infrastruc­ture projects at the college – a new $6.5-million project funded by Agricultur­e Victoria and a $2.315-million classroom refurbishm­ent project, funded by the Department of Education and Training, $2-million, and Skillinves­t, $315,000.

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