Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly NMIT) was the first TAFE College in Australia to introduce post-apprenticeship training in turf.
In 1987 it started the Advanced Certificate in Turf before adding a Diploma level course in 1990. This pioneering path is set to continue with the announcement that it will be offering a new sports turf management degree starting in February 2019, a first for the Australian turf industry.
The ‘Bachelor of Agriculture and Technology, majoring in Sports Turf Management’, will be offered via partnership with fellow Melbourne-based institution La Trobe University.
According to Dr Phillip Ford, the driving force behind the new course’s development, the degree will help to enhance the level of professionalism of Australia’s Sportsturf Management practitioners.
“We have been very careful to craft a course and delivery method that allows a pathway all the way from Certificate II or III,” says Ford, who played a key role in developing the earlier Advanced Certificate and Diploma courses.
“In particular, students who have completed a Diploma of Sports Turf Management will get several exemptions going into the degree.”
The new degree course will consist of 24 units, with entrants who have completed a Diploma of Sports Turf Management eligible for up to eight exemptions, depending on the units they completed.
Ford notes that if a student has not undertaken the Diploma course, it would make sense they do so first through the TAFE system which will then make them eligible for the degree exemptions.
Assuming that eight exemptions are granted, that leaves 16 units to complete.
Students will be allowed seven years to complete the remaining units, meaning they can still undertake full-time employment while completing the degree on a part-time basis.
Dr Phillip Ford says the addition of the new Bachelor degree in Sportsturf Management will help to enhance the level of professionalism of Australia’s turf practitioners
The course can be studied via different means. Students can either undertake the traditional face-to-face mode of study (to be mostly done at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Epping and Fairfield campuses) or using the ‘blended delivery’ mode, where lectures are viewed online and practical work is done on selected weekends. This latter mode, while a more difficult way to study, makes the course a viable option for rural or interstate students. Ford adds that the face-to-face time commitment is similar to the current Diploma course, with a degree student expected to devote a further eight hours per week for study and assignment work at home.
The degree includes three turf-specific units (‘Turf construction and drainage’, ‘Turf for sport’ and one other to be determined), two turf-specific research projects/trials, nine generic agronomy units and two electives. The two electives allow students to branch out into areas of special interest such as human resource management, business studies, communications and marketing.
Under the Commonwealth Supported Funding scheme, the cost per unit will be between $1100 and $1300 with student loans available. For more information visit www.studyassist.gov.au or Google ‘fee help study assist’.
“This qualification will provide a sound programme for future Australian turf managers,” says Ford. “Whether students go on to complete a career on the tools or move into alternate employment in sales, research or consultancy, the course provides an excellent pathway for our industry."
“Potentially, a turf manager could enter the industry as an apprentice, carry on to the Diploma and then transition into the Degree. It’s possible, in fact, to then do an Honours year (which is basically research), then a Masters and then a PhD. With a growing need in the Australian turf industry for tertiary-trained personnel, this new degree course will help elevate our profession and its professionals to new heights.”
For more information about the Bachelor of Agriculture and Technology, majoring in Sports Turf Management contact Dr Philip Ford, PhillipFord@melbournepolytechnic.edu.au or Mark Burchell, MarkBurchell@melbournepolytechnic.edu.au.
Alternatively, contact the Melbourne Polytechnic Turf Department on (03) 9269 8823.