Elmwood College: SRUC principal says college is ‘integral’ to its future plans

The man at the helm of Scotland’s Rural College has said that Elmwood College in Cupar remains an integral part of its future plans, despite fears over cuts and changes.
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Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive, spoke out after growing concerns were raised about the future to courses and a cut to student accommodation under new proposals to tackle a significant budget deficit.

The biggest hit would be the loss of the animal care course where the SRUC said it had “not been possible” to find a delivery model for the course, and hopes of keeping the existing facility as it left the rest of the building were “not viable” - neither was the costs of a new build or refurbishment. Horticulture could also be left with minimal facilities, while professional golf courses will be phased out and replaced with a new area of sustainable golf development.

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Students described the recent announcements as “shocking news” and urged education bosses to invest.

The SRUC is scaling back and making changes to its operations at Elmwood College  (Pic: Submitted)The SRUC is scaling back and making changes to its operations at Elmwood College  (Pic: Submitted)
The SRUC is scaling back and making changes to its operations at Elmwood College (Pic: Submitted)

Professor Powell said he understood their concerns: “I know how much Elmwood means to students, and to the community it serves. It means a great deal to SRUC too. It is vital to confirm that Elmwood remains an integral part of SRUC, and of our future plans.

“In common with other educational institutions throughout the country, SRUC is facing significant financial pressures. To be absolutely clear, SRUC is staying at Elmwood. However, we need to change the way we operate to ensure its survival – and I know that this is an ambition we all share.”He said that background was why the SRUC had to quit the main building at the end of this academic year. It was originally designed for 1500 students and it now has the equivalent of 310 full-time students, and costs more than £1.2 million a year to keep open awhile operating at a fraction of its capacity.

He continued: “We will utilise Elmwood House and our horticultural facilities, to ensure that students on campus will continue to enjoy learning here. This is something we know is of huge importance to students, staff, and the wider community.

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“We are working with colleagues to accommodate animal care teaching from Elmwood and hope to be in a position to share plans with students shortly. We will ensure that those most closely affected – both students and staff – are kept fully up to date, and given the support they need.

Our approach at Elmwood is focused on securing a sustainable future, and maintaining its place at the heart of the community. “He said changes were coming in order to survive, but added| “The outcome will be a stronger, more resilient SRUC that’s better aligned to the evolving needs of learners and the rural businesses that we serve, and Elmwood will remain integral to that.”

Last week, Willie Rennie MSP for North-East Fife, visited the college for talks with students and staff. He said: For months the academic staff have been working on a new academic model, which could potentially mean a positive future for Elmwood. However, last week the SRUC leadership announced that its animal care courses was not viable.

"This sparked immediate anger from students and parents. I relayed that anger to the principal, only to be told that they were exploring how to keep the unit after all. The outcry shows how important the animal care courses are to North East Fife.”