The Scottish Rural College (SRUC) is aiming to become a university by 2022, with north, central and south-west faculties. And the south site will be based at the Barony campus at Dumfries and will specialise in pasture-based agriculture, forestry and biorefining.
The multi-million pound boost to create a new state-of-the-art facility there has received business-case approval from the Scottish Funding Council. However, it does mean that the SRUC will now start a phased withdrawal, over the next four years, from the Crichton site in Dumfries to concentrate on the new development.
Revealing the news, Professor Wayne Powell, pictured above, chief executive and principal of SRUC, said: “This investment is the first major step in our transformational growth to Scotland’s new rural university. It is exciting and full of opportunity for teaching, applied research, the rural economy and Scotland as a whole. The decisions that we have made, and will implement over the next few years, are all the result of significant research and analysis. They will best serve our commitment to educational excellence, which in turn will develop the skills required for a vibrant rural economy in 21st century Scotland. “The three faculties will enable us to bring skills and sectors together, and to strategically deliver an integrated, sustainable model for growth. The transformation programme will be delivered in close consultation with our people, partners and other stakeholders. Importantly, as we are implementing these plans over several years, our current students will be unaffected. I am looking forward to working with communities across Scotland to deliver a new rural university of which everyone can be proud.”
Meanwhile, South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the news and said: “I am particularly delighted with the new investment as I campaigned against the threatened Barony campus closure in 2016. “There was and remains a strong case to be made for ‘The Barony experience’. That is to say, practical, campus based education in a rural setting. The best way to teach about the land is on the land itself.
“This new £35 million investment represents an unequivocal success for our campaign: it ensures the future of the campus and I greatly look forward to seeing development at Barony going forward.”