In what is believed to be an industry first, an Australian agricultural college has signed an agreement with a Canadian counterpart to allow students to travel to Canada to complete a degree in agriculture.
Longerenong College, outside Horsham in Victoria, will link up with Olds College of Agriculture and Technology based in Olds, a town north of Calgary in the Canadian province of Alberta.
General manager at Longerenong Avril Hogan said there were many similarities between 'Longy' and Olds, although Olds is on a much larger scale.
"Similar to use they run a Data Farm project, they focus on many of the same sectors of agriculture such as grain and livestock, but they are much larger with a 1450 hectare farm and over 2000 students," Ms Hogan said.
"What we have been able to do is have Olds accept Longerenong's qualifications so our students can go over there to complete their Bachelor in Applied Science (Agribusiness)."
Ms Hogan said Longerenong did not offer a Degree level qualification so it presented an opportunity for its students to take their education further.
On the flip side Ms Hogan said Olds students would be able to come to Australia to complete their college work experience requirements, with Longerenong hoping to be of use in helping to facilitate work experience placements.
"The idea for them would not be to get a higher education but rather a look at how agriculture operates in a different part of the world."
She said it was a new step for ag colleges such as Longerenong with a strong hands-on, vocational focus.
"There are exchange programs between big universities but this is a first for Australia in that vocational agricultural space."
As well as the student opportunities, Olds and Longerenong will forge closer links outside the classroom.
"We have a lot of the same sponsors and use the same machinery on our farms so it will be easy to share data and compare how systems work in different climatic settings."
She said plans were afoot to link up guest lecturers from Olds to speak to students in Australia.
"That is something we are keen to look further into for sure."