College of West Anglia students fighting to save horticulture course

The College of West Anglia

The College of West Anglia - Credit: Archant

HORTICULTURE students at the College of West Anglia are fighting to keep their course from being scrapped following budget cuts.

The college, which faces a more than £4 million cut in government funding in 2013/4, may withdraw the Cambridge campus based horticulture course, with a final decision scheduled for June 10.

An online and written petition set up by the course’s 15 students have both attracted more than 150 signatures.

They have also created a Facebook campaign page and contacted their local MP’s in a bid of keep the course running.

Charlotte Pirie, 22, a horticulture level three diploma student, said: “We were not even informed by the college of the potential closure of our course even though for many of us it means we will be unable to complete our qualification.


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“We only found out because the college had spoken to a local newspaper.

“We are trying to do all we can to at least keep it open for another year so people can complete the course.”

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Prinicpal David Pomfret said the college was looking into ways to ensure first year horticulture students will get to complete their two-year qualification.

He said: “College managers have now met with the horticulture students to discuss the proposal to close the course and listen to their concerns.

“Some of the level three students will be finishing their course in July and we are investigating alternative options for those students who wish to continue.

“For those who want to go on to the second year, we are committed to enabling them to complete their course and will work with them to find the best solution.”

Ms Pirie praised the course and its tutors, whose jobs are threatened by the proposed move.

She said: “It is a brilliant course. We get lots of practical experience as well as doing theory and science.

“Cambridge campus is brilliant. Since we are a small course there is a really good atmosphere.

“The teachers are fantastic and really passionate about what they do.”

More than 70 per cent of 200 UK horticultural businesses surveyed for Horticulture Matters – a report the horticulture industry will present to Government on May 14 – said they can’t fill skilled vacancies. And 90 per cent said horticulture lacks career appeal.

Ms Pirie said: “There is a shortage of horticulturists at the moment so it seems completely ridiculous that they would consider stopping the

course.”

To find out more about the campaign go to the Save Horticulture at the College of West Anglia Facebook page.

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