PROTEST OVER COLLEGE CUTS

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A £1 MILLION cut to Elmwood College’s budget could see the end to the tradition of teaching agriculture in Cupar — and the scaling down of the college farm.

UNISON members at Elmwood staged another protest against Government further education funding cuts of 10.4 per cent which they claim will lead to fewer college courses, a loss of staff, and as a result a lack of education opportunities for students.

Karen Dawson, chair of UNISON’s further education committee and herself a college employee, said students would face a bleak future unless the Government had a rethink.

College principal Jim Crooks said: “I am deeply saddened that the cuts in the public sector will impact significantly on further education and Elmwood in particular.

“The service that is provided by colleges is essential for recovery from recession as well as the future growth of the economy — and especially in north east Fife.”

He said the college board was committed to ensuring the financial sustainability of Elmwood and to try to mitigate the effects of funding cuts.

A statement issued by the college said it was looking at transferring its general agriculture NC course to Oatridge in Broxburn and in return is likely to have greenkeeping students from that college attend Elmwood.

The use of the college farm, which will no longer be organic, is also likely to change although reassurances have been given it will be retained for use by conservation, gamekeeping, animal care and equine students.

The proposed shift in learning has resulted in a Facebook campaign being launched by students to keep agriculture in Cupar.

The campaign, being run by 19-year-old students Cameron Murray and Steven Aitken, has already attracted a great deal of support.

OPPORTUNITIES

They said their main concern was that Elmwood, which has become synonymous as an agricultural college, would no longer provide life-long learning opportunities within the local community.

They said: “The petition, which lets people make their views known, is about keeping the whole process of education with a hands on approach going in the farming community in which we live.

“We are also concerned about the farm which we believe is being scaled down with arrangements being made to sell cattle and reduce the number of breeding ewes.”

Copies of the petition have been distributed to shops in Cupar and are also available online at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/help-save-elmwood-college-farm/signatures.html