Key biosecurity sector interest group, The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute has expressed disappointment at Lincoln University's decision to drop its biosecurity and bioprotection majors for its science degrees.
Institute President Darion Embling said Lincoln University's announcement in October flies in the face of the government's clearly stated direction for biosecurity for the next decade, announced this month in the Biosecurity 2025 direction document.
"This is quite significant, with capability and learning key to this new biosecurity strategy," Mr Embling said.
A major thrust of the direction is to ensure by 2025 that at least 75 percent of adult New Zealanders understand biosecurity and why it's so important to New Zealand.
"Lincoln's decision seems to go in the opposite direction," Mr Embling said.
"If the strategy is to be at all effective the government needs to work with the university to encourage the availability and attractiveness of biosecurity-related courses, and to demonstrate real career pathways given that this direction strategy has been highly promoted as a collaboration with all sectors of biosecurity.
"Vital sectors to the success of the strategy are education and science," Mr Embling said.
Biosecurity 2025 also has as the explicitly stated aim of being able to identify 150,000 skilled people who can be quickly drawn on to support responses to biosecurity incursions.
"These ambitions would suggest that biosecurity is looking like a good career path for those looking at a course of study.
"Given the government' clear commitment to biosecurity and the associated public awareness and skills involved, Lincoln's decision seems to be rather premature."
Mr Embling said the Institute was prompted to comment due to discomfort with Lincoln's decision expressed by some members.
"It is important for the Institute to make this point strongly because there is no independent group watching the biosecurity sector generally."
The NZ Biosecurity Institute is the professional training and networking organisation for people involved in biosecurity. Its 450 members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils and government departments.
All are involved in protecting NZ from invasive species.
Every year the Biosecurity Institute's members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment of the effects of introduced pests.
"This is work which costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars each year through control, research and border control budgets. This money is coming out of all New Zealanders' pockets," Mr Embling said.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
For comment please contact: Darion Embling, President, New Zealand Biosecurity Institute: (07) 859 0790 | 021 605 029
Media enquiries please contact: Chris Macann, Editor, Protect Magazine - The Magazine of the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, phone 03 34 99 660 | 021 878 001