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Barony facing the axe and move to Crichton

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By Rod Edgar
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Barony facing the axe and move to Crichton

THE BARONY campus at Parkgate is facing closure — and the functions of the land-based learning facility transferred to Dumfries.

The intentions were revealed by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) during questioning at the Scottish Parliament last week.
Slamming the revelation, South of Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: “Many staff at the Barony and in the land based industry will be shocked that this move is being planned without any real consultation.”
South of Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish noted SRUC was selling or had already sold off a number of assets, including included Carse of Ae fish farm in Dumfriesshire.
Responding, SRUC acting chief executive Janet Swadling said ‘excess assets’ had already been acknowledged by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).
And after the merger with the boards of Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges, she said: “It became clear that we had more than twice what we needed and had a number of excess assets.”
Ms Swadling said delivery in the west of Scotland would remain ‘a key part’ of SRUC’s plans.
She said: “We recognise the importance of FE and skills delivery in the south-west, particularly Dumfries.”
Pressed for a direct answer on Barony’s future, Ms Swadling said: “I am giving reassurance that there will be activity in the south-west, in Dumfries and probably at Crichton.
“Continuing at the Barony campus is not our current preferred option.”
Ms Swadling says no final decision has been made, but that a survey of Barony buildings suggested funds were not available for the reinvestment required.
She said: “We discussed that with the funding council and were encouraged to explore the Crichton campus option.”
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Fergusson then said he did not receive the categorical assurances he was seeking that Barony courses would not be diminished by any restructuring.
SRUC say they put forward an infrastructure strategy to staff at meetings on key sites last November, with the aim of developing the college’s Crichton presence.
A spokesman said: “We very much value our staff and we have been communicating with them about these plans as they develop and will continue to do so.”

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