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Teed up in Dublin for a course in Slovenia

A college never knows when lecturers might bump into a former student - or in what exotic circumstances.

Elmwood College in Cupar, Fife, which has a speciality in greenkeeping, found this out recently when two members of staff went to Dublin to attend the conference of the Federation of European Golf Greenkeepers'

Associations (FEGGA).

There they realised that the incoming chair of the organisation was former Elmwood student Pirjio Hotti, from Finland. She left last year and is now head greenkeeper at a golf course in her home country, where 30 per cent of head greenkeepers are female.

Elmwood is busy promoting itself in other venues and the same two staff who went to Dublin have just come back from Slovenia. Carol Borthwick, director of golf and international affairs, and lecturer Ian Butcher were in the former Yugoslav country to take 20 greenkeepers, turf growers and groundsmen through their paces as they studied for the college's professional development award in international golf course management.

The course is a part-time one over two years and is delivered with support online as well as on-site. It is aimed at those wishing to take up managerial positions in the golf industry.

"We have dedicated partners, keen students and an exciting growth area within the tourism industry," Mr Butcher said. "We are confident that this will be the first of many such initiatives in this part of the world."

Elmwood is working closely with the FEGGA to promote its course menus, which it hopes will stand it in good stead - 17 countries are members.

Meanwhile, Elmwood and the two other Scottish land-based colleges, Barony in Dumfriesshire and Oatridge in West Lothian, have an alliance as Scottish Countryside Colleges to promote the virtues of working on the land.

They are concerned that the agricultural industry could be facing critical times, with 33 per cent of the workforce over the age of 55 and vacancies becoming increasingly difficult to fill.

The colleges' first collaborative venture is a CD-Rom, which hopes to put across the message that you do not need to come from generations of farmers or even to live in the countryside to have a land-based career.

More information can be found on www.countrysidecolleges.com.

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