Politicians raise Elmwood issues

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Fife College has been urged to expand further education provision in north east Fife following the recent announcement that it is to close its Elmwood campus next year.

The call has come from Liberal Democrats, Councillor Tim Brett and MSP Willie Rennie, who want a guaranteed commitment from the college.

Also this week, Rod Campbell, the local SNP MSP, said he had received a commitment from the Scottish Rural College (SRUC) – the main user of Elmwood – to remain in Cupar.

The former Elmwood College became part of SRUC over two years ago, looking after mainly land-based courses.

In 2013, Fife College went on to take over the other courses, including supported learning, but said in a statement last November that it was quitting its Cupar campus “due to cuts in funding and the high cost of operating in the building.”

Councillor Brett admitted that he was “very anxious” about what the proposed withdrawal from Elmwood would mean for Cupar and the north east Fife.

“We need clarity from the college as to its intentions,” he said. “The sudden decision to shut down its presence on the Elmwood campus generated a lot of concern.

Mr Rennie added: “If the college is determined to withdraw from the Elmwood campus, leaving the SRUC on the site, we want guarantees that the further education offer in the area will expand and not contract.”

“Towns like Anstruther and St Andrews need a better deal too.”

Following his meeting with senior SRUC representatives, Mr Campbell said he was assured that, when Fife College vacated the building, Elmwood would remain operational and that all the existing courses, provided by the SRUC, would continue.

“I am delighted the SRUC has confirmed that it is here to stay in Cupar. There has been some unhelpful speculation in relation to the future of Elmwood campus and I’m pleased that the SRUC has confirmed its long-term intentions.

“I hope this will help to put an end to earlier rumours suggesting that SRUC would pull out of north east Fife and I look forward to receiving further updates about the good work it does in the town.”

Mr Campbell met with David McKenzie, vice-principal for education at SRUC, and Alasdair Cox, interim head of professional services.

It was confirmed that they would seek to consolidate existing facilities at Cupar and continue to explore additional education programmes that could be provided at Elmwood.