Super agri-college created in Scotland

Four leading Scottish land-based colleges have officially merged and strengthened the country’s support for sustainable agriculture, food production and land use.

Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges have joined forces with the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) to form Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). The college said the merge had created a pioneering academic and consultancy organisation that will strengthen Scotland’s support for sustainable agriculture, food production and land use in the UK and abroad.

SRUC said it will undertake world-class research in more than 50 countries for more than 12,500 customers. The body will also train and educate more than 8,000 further and higher education students across its six campuses.

According to SRUC, it 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,” it said.

Chairman of SRUC Lord Jamie Lindsay explained that it was the right time for SRUC to be established, because the need for the rural and land-based research, education and consulting had never been more important.

Lindsay said: “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 £12bn a year.”