Enrolments for tertiary study in 2020 are under way across the country, and with living costs in the main centres becoming increasingly expensive, enrolments at UCOL are sometimes an attractive alternative.

"We do get students transferring here," said UCL's Whanganui campus manager, Bronwyn Paul. "The first thing they do is talk about the affordability."

"It's not just measured in terms of money, it's measured in terms of time and distance, so they have more time."

In addition to more affordable accommodation and living costs, the Whanganui campus provides free bus transport to Palmerston North and around Whanganui.

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"That cuts down their travel costs a lot, so we take away all those barriers for learning," Paul said.

UCOL is a polytechnic spread across four locations in the lower North Island - Whanganui, Manawatū, Horowhenua and Wairarapa. Students are offered programmes from certificate diplomas and degrees, through to masters, and while many of the qualifications are the same as a university, polytechnics have a more practical focus.

"When a student graduates from here, they don't just know the theory in the academic side of it, they know the actual applied learning,"Paul said.

"All of the staff are still working and active in the industry and it's really important," music department lecturer Sacha Keating said. "So any lessons that we learn while we are practising our career pathways, we're able to translate it back to the students on Monday."

Careers in the creative industries are generally not well paid, but UCOL are upbeat about increasing potential for musicians to turn their passions into a career.

"The world's opened up for musicians," Keating said. "Especially with technology, so obviously if you've got the fundamental roots of recording, or if you have the fundamentals of live practise, you are able to follow diverse career pathways - whether it's post-production audio, live session musician, studio engineer...

"There's a myriad of options if you've got the fundamentals and that's what we're trying to push here."

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