Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business


John McGlashan College and Columba College are proud to be collaborating as New Zealand lead schools in delivering an exciting new Agribusiness course. As a Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business, we aim to stimulate and encourage our graduates to pursue tertiary study and careers in the primary sector, up to and beyond the farm gate.

In 2013 DairyNZ identified a major skills shortage in the agribusiness sector, with research showing that the industry needed 1250 tertiary qualified workers entering the field each year. The Government’s target of doubling New Zealand’s primary sector exports by 2025 in itself will require around 25,000 more graduates, according to Ministry of Primary Industry (MPI) figures. However, less than 200 students graduated from university agribusiness related courses in 2013, ringing alarm bells for industry experts. By introducing academically rigorous Agribusiness courses to secondary school students, more of New Zealand’s brightest young minds will become inspired by the opportunities available in this sector and realise that career prospects are numerous and diverse.  We are at the forefront of this work, being two of just eight Centre of Excellence lead schools in New Zealand.

Columba and John McGlashan Colleges will teach the Agribusiness course across both campuses, utilising the combined teaching strengths and resources of the two schools. The University of Otago is a key education partner in providing tertiary pathways for graduates of our schools’ Agribusiness programme.

The course is comprised of four learning strands:

Agri-innovation, the study of innovative (bio) technologies and farm management practices that will ensure the future-proofing of primary industries in New Zealand (i.e, food safety, climate change, the globalization of trade, loss of biodiversity)

Agri-science, the study of scientific principles related to agriculture and horticulture and the acquisition of scientific skills necessary to sustain and improve New Zealand’s primary export products (food science, soil science and fertilizer chemistry, for example)

Agri-management and finance, the study of buying and selling within the primary sector, and the running of a successful Agri business with regard to the market forces that influence supply and demand

Agri-marketing, the study of successfully and appropriately marketing primary products with reference to the target consumer, how to ensure one secures the best market value, and sustainability in the supply-demand chain


At Columba and John McGlashan in 2017 the programme will be launched at Level 2, and structured as follows:

Level 2, 201 Agribusiness: Students will take six level 2 subjects of which four will be compulsory - Agribusiness, Mathematics, English and at least ONE subject from either the Science pathway (Biology OR Chemistry) OR the Commerce pathway (Accounting OR Economics). Students are free to choose the two remaining subjects from any of those offered by the Colleges.

In 2018 the Level 3 programme will be launched:

Level 3, 301 Agribusiness: Students will take at least five level 3 subjects of which two will be compulsory; Agribusiness, and at least ONE subject from either the Science pathway (Biology OR Chemistry) OR the Commerce pathway (Accounting OR Economics), and one highly recommended subject from the NCEA Agricultural and Horticultural Science standards. Students are free to choose the two remaining subjects from any of those offered by the Colleges.

This combination of the Agribusiness course along with the NCEA option subjects will result in students graduating with an Agribusiness qualification (which most New Zealand Universities have indicated they will recognise) as well as their Level 2 or 3 NCEA qualification.

Prospective students need to apply in writing to enter the programme, and should be endorsed by the subject teachers (Chemistry, Biology, Accounting or Economics) and the Heads of Department to ensure the candidates are capable of successfully completing the requirements for these subjects at Level 2 and 3. 

The prerequisite is at least Merit endorsements at Level 1 for Chemistry, Biology, Accounting (JMC) or Economics. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to take either Biology, Accounting (JMC), Chemistry or Economics at Level 1.


For more information and to register your interest in the programme , please e-mail Dr. Craig Preston at craig.preston@mcglashan.co.nz or Mrs Suzanne Bishop at sbishop@columbacollege.school.nz

Click here for the Agriculture Science and Business Brochure.