Nearly 300 fresh faces were welcomed on to the Whanganui UCOL campus yesterday as 14 courses got under way for the year.

A powhiri was held at Pakaitore in the morning to welcome the new students before a lunch at the UCOL campus. Whanganui deputy mayor Hamish McDouall spoke of the value the students would add to the city.

"You are an injection of youth and beauty into our beautiful city," he said. "You're an injection of ambition and desire to improve and learn."

Of those among the new students was Caleb MacDonald who is studying security.

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It is a one-year course which will give him NCEA level 1 and 2 credits.

"It is practical and work-based learning," he said. He hoped the qualification would help him get into the army. Mr MacDonald said it helped being able to study in his hometown. "I have a huge support base here."

Meanwhile, Alex Stryphe was a returning student but starting a level 4 chef's diploma and was hoping to get through that and on to level 5 next year.

"I love to cook at home, so I thought I may as well do it as a job. I've studied at UCOL before and they've been really good."

Campus manager Gina Guigou told the students it was their campus to enjoy.

"This is your campus and we are here as staff to make your year or years of study as fabulous as possible. Your tertiary education can open so many doors because you mix with so many people."

There will be further orientation events held for UCOL students on March 3 and 5.