John McGlashan 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 the 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 realize that career prospects are numerous and diverse.  We are at the forefront of this work, being two of just nine Centre of Excellence lead schools in New Zealand, and the only schools in Otago.

Columba and John McGlashan Colleges currently teach the Agribusiness course across both campuses, utilizing 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 and scholarships to the top students.


The two-year course, run over Year 12 and 13, 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 Agribusiness 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


The Centre of Excellence has secured national partners to support the process of establishing the curriculum, resources and assessments. The key national partners are DairyNZ and Beef & Lamb New Zealand. The local partners include Mt Difficulty Wines, Otago University and Silver Fern Farms.

Innovation and creativity are the hallmarks of this course and each lesson seeks to stretch the thinking of the students to consider their future as a primary industry worker and the future of work, a fast-changing landscape requiring very different skills to those of our previous generations.

Whilst agricultural principles are evident throughout the course, our primary focus is on careers beyond the farm gate, the industries and individual careers supporting our amazing farmers, whether they be rural bankers, soil scientist, drafters or environmental scientists.

See the documents below for the formal application form and/or the course content over the two years.  Places are limited on this course and by application only, so please apply early. Please contact Dr. Preston if you have any enquiries by email


Agribusiness Application Form
930kb DOCX file | Agribusiness Application Form 2023
Agribusiness 2 year Course
40kb PDF file | Level 2 and 3 Agribusiness Courses.pdf
Agribusiness Information Seminar 2021
41mb PDF file | Agribusiness Information Seminar 2021