Melbourne Polytechnic is excited to launch our new degree course, the Bachelor of Agriculture and Technology, majoring in Sports Turf Management.
This course will commence in February 2019, and is offered in partnership with La Trobe University.
Many in the Australian turf industry have been agitating for a viable Degree program for years, due to the increasing complexity of the role of Turf Managers, and the increasing need for tertiary-trained staff in turf-specific R&D, technical sales and consultancy roles. The US has had degree-level training in turf for several decades, and Canada and several European countries now do as well.
The full degree course consists of 24 units, but entrants who have recently completed a Turf Diploma will be eligible for up to 8 exemptions, depending on the units they did. Assuming that 8 exemptions were granted, that leaves 16 units to complete.
Three of those16 units are turf-specific (Turf Construction and Drainage, Turf for Sport, and one other to be determined). Another two units involve research projects, so they could also be counted as turf-specific.
Of the 11 remaining units, 9 are generic agronomy units, where the turf student will be in a class with viticulturists, ag students and others. These units are: Living Systems 1, Living Systems 2, Statistics, Ecological Systems, Plant Physiology, Plant Pests and Pathogens, Applied Genomics and Breeding, Future Technology and Integrated Production Management. Although those units are taught in a general ag context, the assignments and prac work done by turf students would be done in a turf context.
The two remaining units are electives, allowing you to choose units like Marketing or Human Resource Management or Agribusiness or Wine Appreciation (true), or even units done outside the Ag school or at different university. This gives you a chance to branch out into an area of special interest.
You can take up to 7 years to complete the course, so it would suit a part-time study mode, potentially with the participant continuing to work full time. There are lots of study options, including blended delivery, where lectures are viewed on-line and practical work is done on selected weekends. This makes it a viable option for rural or interstate students.
Take an example: a student who has completed the Turf Diploma and been granted the 8 exemptions could enrol to start the Degree in Feb 2019. Assume they wanted to study part-time and keep their full-time job. Over the 13 weeks of Semester 1 they would study Living Systems 1 on Mondays, 9am – 4pm at the Epping Campus. In Semester 2 they could continue in the same time slot, doing Living Systems 2. They could work out an arrangement where they make up that time at work, or drop back to 0.8 employment to allow them that study time. As well as the 7 hours/wk of formal study, the student would be expected to devote another 8 hours/wk or so for home study and assignment work.
If you hadn’t done the Turf Diploma it would make a lot of sense to do that through the TAFE system and then become eligible for the exemptions into the Degree course, as TAFE Diploma units are cheaper. Under the Commonwealth Supported Funding, the cost per Degree unit is $1,100 – $1,300. Loans are available, search ‘Fee Help Study Assist’ for information.
The program provides an excellent, seamless pathway for our industry – potentially, a Turf Manager could enter the industry as an apprentice, carry on to the Diploma, and transition into the Degree. It’s possible, in fact, to then move on to post-grad study. Now that’s a pathway!