THE quality of agriculture education in the region is under threat following South West TAFE’s move to close its Glenormiston operations, Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor says.
South West TAFE last week announced agricultural and horticultural courses provided at Glenormiston would be delivered through a blended model of on-the-job, off-campus and online methods next year.
But Cr O’Connor said he feared it would be a “mish-mash”.
He told the shire’s meeting on Tuesday night that if agriculture in the south-west was to reach its productive capacity, it needed educated farmers.
“Agriculture education is really important,” he said. “I am not sure that we do agriculture education really well.”
The shire’s chief executive officer Andrew Mason will raise the council’s concerns about the closure today with state higher education minister Peter Hall.
Cr O’Connor said the Glenormiston campus had been donated by local people to the state government that had a responsibility to put the facility to good use.
The government needed to immediately pursue prospects for the campus’ future use and find a new tenant.
“It is a magnificent facility,” Cr O’Connor said.
“It should not be mothballed.”
The campus had the potential to create a lot more employment than the seven jobs that will be lost when South West TAFE withdraws next March, he said.
The campus had previously employed a workforce of between 30-50 people but its activities and employee numbers had been “ramped down” under its earlier use by Melbourne University and most recently by South West TAFE.
South West TAFE chief executive officer Peter Heilbuth said its decision to withdraw from the campus followed a decline in the number of students participating in programs at Glenormiston in the past few years.