Clarity sought over fate of rural college campuses

There was little hard information on where the axe was likely to fall. Picture: Dave Scott
There was little hard information on where the axe was likely to fall. Picture: Dave Scott
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Campus closures – or the threat thereof – at Scotland’s rural colleges topped the list of concerns raised during a recent series of meetings around the country outlining the SRUC’s new strategic vision.

But with little hard information on where the axe was likely to fall either in the strategy document itself or during the round of meetings, stakeholders made it plain that greater clarity would have made the consultation exercise a more profitable affair.

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The 900 people who attended the 21 discussion meetings held around the country along with 250 written comments on the strategy highlighted the fact that key factors in any assessment would have been an indication of when a decision about this would be reached and what the future of SRUC would look like in geographic terms.

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A summary of the feedback showed that while some stakeholders had wanted immediate answers about the future of individual campus locations, others sought ongoing discussions to shape SRUC’s longer term future in their region.

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The feedback contained a number of very specific examples of why individual campuses should remain open. Examples included the local economy, lack of alternative viable options for students in the area, historical legacy and SRUC’s heritage, and a growing link between urban and rural education – particularly in densely populated areas of Scotland.

And while there was some acceptance that difficult choices and outcomes had to be made as part of the new strategy, the consensus was that, once confirmed, SRUC should stick to its guns and make a long-term commitment to the decisions which were taken.

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