Insecure over campus’ future

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Nathan Foote-Bidgood is worried about his educational future.
The 23-year-old Timaru Ara Institute student says his concerns are shared by his classmates, after the tertiary education provider announced last week it proposed to close its primary industry, horticulture, agriculture, farming systems and goods service programmes in South Canterbury.
“It’s been a big shock,” Mr Foote-Bidgood said.
“We don’t know if they’re going to get rid of more classes here. We are all feeling a bit uneasy.”
However, Ara chief executive Kay Giles said the provider was “as committed as ever to Timaru”.
Mr Foote-Bidgood has been an Ara student for two years.
This year he is studying level 3 carpentry, and last year completed his level 4 cookery course. He has also gained his level 3 food and beverage qualifications at the Timaru institute, as well as city and guilds qualifications.
“I was hoping we’d get a joinery course started up next year as I know there are people who want to do it,” he said.
Mr Foote-Bidgood said he was so concerned about the future of the Timaru campus, he was willing to speak out about the proposed closures.
“It’s not a good thing for the Timaru area.
“We don’t know if they’re going to keep closing things down.”
Timaru was the place he called home. It was a good place to study as the living costs were lower than in bigger centres such as Christchurch and Dunedin.
“As a student you don’t have much money.
“You only get a certain amount and it’s just enough to get by. Moving somewhere else just isn’t an option.”
He felt insecure about the Timaru campus’ future.
“I, we, don’t want to see it going down the drain. It’s that feeling of unease.”
“I had a friend who was thinking about doing the farming course next year _ it’s a real shame.”
Mr Foote-Bidgood enjoyed the support of his tutors but said he could be tempted to look at other options.
“I will possibly look at trying to get on to a building site and doing an apprenticeship next year.”
Mrs Giles said the proposal to restructure the primary industries programmes was designed to adjust provision to “align with industry demands”.
“After the review, more resource will be allocated to other primary industry programmes such as the New Zealand diploma of agribusiness management, which is expected to reach 50 EFTS this year, so it is not simply a matter of reducing courses but more about getting the mix right for South Canterbury.”