WITH potentially five jobs available for every university agribusiness graduate nationally, the Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management degree course at Muresk has doubled its student intake this year.
Head of the School of Agribusiness at Muresk Christine Storer said first-year enrolments for the degree course offered by NSW-based Charles Sturt University (CSU) for 2016 were finalised at 28.
"We've doubled our first year enrolment on last year and doubled our total number of degree course students overall," Dr Storer said.
"There are not many universities that can boast they have done that, doubled start-up course numbers by the third year.
"Charles Sturt University is very pleased with us.
"I believe the good news has made it all the way up to the vice chancellor."
Dr Storer said CSU was committed to continuing to provide the agribusiness degree at Muresk and course delivery by CY O'Connor Institute higher education staff will not be affected by the reorganisation of WA regional TAFE.
"There might be some small change at administration level, but course staff have not been affected," she said.
From next Monday, the CY O'Connor name will disappear and its Northam, Merredin and Moora campuses will be rolled into a larger Central Regional TAFE network.
The CY O'Connor Narrogin campus will join a new South Regional TAFE network.
There was some concern among Muresk Old Collegians Association (MOCA) members that without former CY O'Connor Institute managing director John Scott - one of 92 TAFE staff made redundant by the reorganisation - the degree course might not continue long-term.
Dr Storer confirmed "we've lost our champion in John" and that he left "big shoes to fill".
But she said there were no concerns about the CSU course continuing.
"There are 3000 jobs going in agriculture at the moment and only 600 agribusiness graduates Australia-wide to fill them," she said.
"With numbers like that, the interest in degree courses like ours is only going to grow.
"It's simply a matter of getting the message out to the young ones."
Dr Storer said industry support for the degree course also continued to grow with another $5000 provided for an extra student scholarship this year.
She said CSU Dean of Science Tim Wess would attend the annual awards dinner in May to honour student achievements and to present industry-sponsored scholarships across the three year levels.
The first graduate cohort is expected to complete the degree course in November, about the same time as Muresk reaches its 90th anniversary as an agriculture-focused education institution.
MOCA is organising the celebrations.
Geraldton MLA and former Muresk student Ian Blayney has endorsed a report by Deputy Premier and Training and Workforce Development Minister Liza Harvey updating parliament on the Muresk Institute.
The State Government became responsible for Muresk in 2013 when Curtin University withdrew from offering an agriculture-focused degree course there and handed the campus over.
"As a former student at Muresk, it was important to me that Muresk remained operational following Curtin University's decision to withdraw from this campus,'' Mr Blayney said.
"I support a scholarship there as part of a Liberal team, and will continue to do so into the future."
Ms Harvey said the number of students completing training at Muresk had grown from 44 in 2013, to 155 in 2014 and 1025 in 2015.
She said industry-driven short courses in a range of agricultural skill sets were completed by 990 students at Muresk last year, and the number of public and privately registered training organisations delivering vocational education and training (VET) programs had jumped from four in 2014 to 38 last year.
"Muresk is recognised as a major contributor to meeting the demand for skilled workers in the agriculture sector," Ms Harvey said.