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Elmwood’s future to be debated at Holyrood

Steven Brown
Steven Brown

A guarantee of the future of a Fife college campus will be called for at the Scottish Parliament next week following a reduction in student numbers.

Willie Rennie will tell fellow MSPs about the fears for the long term of the Elmwood campus, following the withdrawal of Fife College last summer and a reduction in course and student numbers.

There are worries that Scotland’s rural college SRUC, which took over the majority of courses in a merger with Fife College in 2013, will also eventually pull out.

North East Fife MSP Mr Rennie is to lead a debate on the campus in Holyrood on Thursday, at which it is expected education secretary John Swinney will respond.

Mr Rennie said: “The future of Elmwood has been uncertain for far too long.

“The problems began when SRUC and Fife College divided the courses and departments in Cupar.

“But the situation deteriorated when Fife College moved out shortly after.

“The campus is a shadow of its former self and that needs to change.

“What we need now is a guarantee for the future which will send a clear signal to staff and students about the confidence in the campus.”

Fife College and SRUC need to come together, he said, to create a vibrant education centre for north-east Fife providing rural education, entry level courses across a wide range of areas and full courses for a number of disciplines.

He said: “The combination of this activity will create the necessary critical mass to have that vibrant centre.”

Discussions are taking place between Fife College, the SRUC and the Scottish Funding Council on a plan for the future.

SRUC insisted it had “no current plans” to withdraw from Elmwood campus.

A spokesperson said: “We are actively recruiting new students for the start of the 17/18 academic year and we offer a range of exciting study programmes in areas including hospitality, horticulture, gamekeeing and wildlife management and a selection of golf and greenkeeping-related qualifications.

“We are working closely with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and local education providers in Fife as the SFC-led study is being carried out.”

A Fife College spokesperson said: “Fife College is committed to ensuring that that the community of north-east Fife benefits from a wide range of learning opportunities, both now and in the future.

“We will therefore continue to work closely with SRUC, the Scottish Funding Council and our partners in the community to find a solution which can be implemented as soon as possible.”

The funding council study, due to be completed in May, will identify an appropriate curriculum offer for north-east Fife to meet economic needs and student demand.

A spokesperson said: “This is an important piece of work which will help everyone including schools, colleges, universities, employers and ourselves to better understand what students and employers are looking for in what’s offered to learners in north-east Fife.”

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