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.