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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 920: XXVIII International Horticultural Congress on Science and Horticulture for People (IHC2010): VI International Symposium on Horticultural Education, Research Training and Consultancy

HORTICULTURAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING FUTURES IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

Authors:   D.E. Aldous, G. McEvilly
Keywords:   horticulture, university, technical and further education, student numbers
Abstract:
In recent years horticulture has been a rapidly expanding industry in Australia and New Zealand, with an increase in the value of both the production and lifestyle sectors. In contrast, the last 25 years has seen a significant decline in student numbers, graduates, course titles and descriptions of horticulture offered as applied science or horticultural science in Australia and New Zealand. A 2008-2009 study evaluated the opportunities for horticultural education, training and careers in Australia and New Zealand. A survey was conducted in association with 20 Universities that offered agricultural/horticultural/environmental science programs both in Australia and New Zealand. Results show that horticulture has become marginalized within Australian and New Zealand academia and universities. Of the 47 recognized universities in Australia and New Zealand only 10% offered horticulture as a standalone degree program. Less than 20% offered horticulture either as a major, as a core discipline area, or as an individual subject. This trend is less apparent in vocational education and training. Some initiatives are in place to address these challenges. These promote horticulture and/or science and improve program delivery (specializations, dual degrees, industry-based degrees). Other initiatives include the adoption of new methods of learning (e-learning, web-based systems) and approaches to promote horticulture as a career and profession. These and similar initiatives may help to improve the image of horticulture as a profession and ensure courses remain relevant in a changing world. To meet industry needs, future horticultural research, teaching and training may need to encompass technical, marketing and leadership skills.
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