UCOL targets new arts courses

By John Maslin

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Arts and glass courses could be back at UCOL Whanganui in a bid to ensure the viability of the tertiary institution in the city.

This prospect is among recommendations from a joint Wanganui District Council-UCOL taskforce released yesterday.

While the taskforce recommends disestablishing the bachelor of fine arts course and the diploma of glass design and production, it is pushing for replacement courses in the form of a broader three-year arts degree and three new glass programmes.

These options have been endorsed by the UCOL council and yesterday the district council's community and environment committee lent unanimous support.

But there is much work to be done before anything is nailed down.

The taskforce was set up in December amid growing concern as funding cuts saw UCOL drop courses and lose staff. It was charged with looking at ways to help secure UCOL's long-term future in Wanganui.

Taskforce member and council economic development manager Allan MacGibbon said the fine arts course was not attracting enough students to keep it viable.

"But our suggestion is about carving out a niche for arts in Wanganui and this is how we believe it can happen."

UCOL chairman Trevor Goodwin admitted there was lot to be done.

"The new arts degree, for UCOL taskforce

seeks new courses

Between UCOL and council we've got to make sure Wanganui is a desirable place and this is another aspect that really hasn't been thought of collaboratively until now. Annette Main, mayor

example, is going to take a lot of work. We'll have to find out how the community can be involved, then we have to go to NZQA to get the framework sorted out - and, finally, there's the funding," he said.

"It's probably a two-year horizon."

Whether that resulted in the course the taskforce was suggesting was too early to say "but we're very hopeful".

Mr Goodwin said things were already in motion on other recommendations from the taskforce, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the "not employed or engaged in education and training" (NEETS) programme.

He said NEETS had gained endorsement from local secondary school leaders and the taskforce was recommending UCOL look at what it could provide for these young people from 2014-15.

Mayor Annette Main said NEETS was the "big story" from the taskforce because it focused on the secondary schools and looking at young people as they progressed through school.

"And the private training establishments have a major role to play - they need to be engaged with them as well," Ms Main said.

She said the revised arts and glass courses - which may include a one-year certificate, two-year diploma and three-year advanced diploma in glass - would require some community involvement and that capability had to be investigated.

"Between UCOL and council we've got to make sure Wanganui is a desirable place and this is another aspect that really hasn't been thought of collaboratively until now - but we can do that working together."

UCOL intends to appoint a relationship manager based in Wanganui whose primary role will be to reinforce links between the tertiary institute and the community.

"Whatever we can do to make the UCOL campus more accessible we will do," Mr Goodwin said.

Ms Main said the council and UCOL would consider the recommendations and decide what their respective organisations could commit to for 2014 and beyond.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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