Oatridge College Merger Strengthens Support for Agriculture and Rural Sector
01 October 2012
Oatridge College in West Lothian is one of four leading land-based colleges which will officially merge on 1 October 2012 to form a pioneering academic and consultancy organisation. The merger will strengthen Scotland’s support for sustainable agriculture, food production and land use in the UK and abroad.
Oatridge, Barony and Elmwood Colleges and SAC (the Scottish Agricultural College) have combined more than a century of experience in research, education and rural business consultancy to establish Scotland’s Rural College – ‘SRUC’. The new organisation is unique in Scotland and the largest of its kind in Europe.
Today, SRUC is already undertaking world class research with reach in more than 50 countries, training and educating over 8,000 Further and Higher education students across its six campuses and providing expert rural business consultancy for more than 12,500 customers.
SRUC’s cornerstone is the interaction between these three ‘knowledge exchange’ strands of research, education and consultancy. Ensuring each service works with and informs the others is seen as the key to bringing maximum benefits to those with a stake in the rural sector - whether learners, businesses, communities or policy-makers.
The aim is growth, maximising SRUC’s impact, influence and global links. An immediate priority is to work towards becoming Scotland’s first Rural University College with degree awarding powers, hopefully in 2014.
SRUC is at the leading edge of a new educational model for Scotland in amalgamating Further and Higher education. Through high quality and relevant courses combined with excellence in teaching and support, SRUC’s students will enjoy enhanced opportunities to progress in their studies from access level right up to PhD. SRUC’s academic activities align with national policy aimed at delivering the best outcomes for learners; developing a world-class research capability; and maximising the contribution to sustainable economic growth for Scotland.
Chairman, Lord Jamie Lindsay believes the time is right for SRUC to be
established because the need for the rural and land-based research, education
and consulting has never been more important.
explained: “Within the lifetime of today’s SRUC students, world food production
must almost double to feed the growing population. This must be done on less
land with diminishing resources, while protecting the environment and
addressing the challenges posed by climate change. In addition, the growing
need for innovation in the rural industries and increasing diversity in food
production means ever more complex jobs requiring appropriately skilled and
qualified people. Here in Scotland, we need to continue to raise the competitiveness of the agri-food industry,
which is currently worth over £12 billion a year.
“Meeting these many and complex challenges calls for skilled, adaptable and resourceful people. Through its integrated, diverse and sector-leading academic and consultancy activities, and through its ethos of listening closely to industry, SRUC has the knowledge, expertise and experience to be at the forefront of training, educating and supporting rural life and industry. SRUC has the ability to make a real and crucial difference in a changing world.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Rural communities have a huge part to play in Scottish life and Scotland’s successes but it’s vital that people have access to the right skills to help their communities flourish in a modern Scotland.
“This merger of our land-based colleges will ensure that Scots have access to the highest quality training and research which will stand our rural communities in good stead for generations to come.”
Education Secretary Michael Russell said:“All of the land based colleges have a rich tradition and are known for helping people develop the skills the rural economy needs. Today is a significant day for the colleges, students and the wider rural community, as it marks the launch of the united rural college.
“I believe the new college will play a key role in ensuring young people are fully equipped to become the rural workforce of the future. While the integrated planning and delivery can boost the way the college works with rural businesses to deliver courses that meets their needs. This will be a win-win for students and our economy.”