Domestic students have flocked to Lincoln University this semester, following the institution’s swift move to address an increasing need for work-ready graduates in the food and fibre sectors.
Lincoln’s domestic student numbers for semester 1 are up 35% on last year, representing a 10-year high, and the Accommodation Team says the Halls of Residence are “full to overflowing”.
Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Bruce McKenzie attributes the increase to the university’s strong response to changing demands in a post-Covid environment.
“New Zealand’s primary industries are confronting a number of distinct challenges in the Covid-impacted marketplace and Lincoln has moved swiftly over the last 12 months to tailor our course offerings to meet the demands of the country’s thriving food and fibre sectors,” Professor McKenzie says.
Six of Lincoln’s horticultural and agricultural sub-degree programmes became fees-free when the Government’s Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund took effect in 2020. The university has extended this initiative to offer its own fee waivers on targeted courses until December 2022.
“Lincoln introduced tuition fee waivers in mid-2020 on a number of our postgraduate programmes, including taught master’s degrees, to encourage people to gain the knowledge and skills to contribute to a more productive and sustainable future,” Professor McKenzie says.
“Our strategies to remove barriers to study and to innovate our study programmes have yielded positive results, with a vibrant and buoyant atmosphere on campus.”
One student taking advantage of Lincoln’s fees-free offering is Marissa Mcdonald, who began studying for a Master of Pest Management this year. Having completed a Bachelor of Science in 2018, she always wanted to return to Lincoln to complete her postgraduate study, because of “the unique and hands-on approach to learning”.
She says there are many things to love about Lincoln, some of which include “the student community, the focus on sustainability and the environment, the fantastic lecturers and tutors, and the rural backdrop to our learning”.
After graduating with her master’s degree, she hopes to find work helping to protect New Zealand from established and potential threats to the environment.
Other domestic students enjoying their time at Lincoln so far include first year Future Leader Scholars Fergus Lee, Abdullah Wahidi and Kyle Galloway. The Future Leader Scholarship Programme provides students with opportunities to contribute to the community.
Aucklander Fergus has an urban background but chose to attend Lincoln because he’s keen to enter the agricultural sector. He’s just begun studying for a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and hopes to travel the world and work on different farms overseas after graduating.
He is finding it much easier than expected to make new friends on campus and says the Future Leader programme is brilliant for meeting like-minded people from all over New Zealand.
“It has really made me feel comfortable in a new environment.”
Abdullah is in his first year of a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in marketing with a minor in supply chain management, and he eventually wants to set up a family business with his two older brothers.
After a short time at Lincoln, he is already impressed with the diversity on campus and appreciation of Muslim culture. He’s also grateful for the availability of the lecturers, which he doubts would be a feature of a bigger university, and he values the study assistance he receives from the Learning, Teaching and Library team.
Kyle is passionate about the environment, so has enrolled in a Bachelor of Environmental Policy and Planning. He says he’s loved his first few weeks at Lincoln.
“Making friends has been so much fun. The support from everyone is great and everyone is so helpful.”
His tips for new students including seeking help as soon as possible “because everyone generally wants to help you and will accommodate all your needs”.
“Also, get involved in clubs or other activities, because Lincoln has so many different things to offer. They cater to everyone.”