NFU Scotland hosts webinar on the future of the Craibstone campus

Considerable interest in Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) plans for the future of the Craibstone campus saw almost 90 people participate in a webinar organised by NFU Scotland last night (January 14) to debate and discuss the proposals.

The potential expansion project proposals include expanding teaching facilities focussed on veterinary skills in rural areas, new halls of residence, space for research laboratories, an allied veterinary practice to support education, as well as exploring opportunities to support the local community and economy that includes the  creation of a Seedpod food hub.

The meeting provided a platform for several from SRUC to discuss proposals and were joined by NFU Scotland representatives, a former student and Opportunity North East.

Many comments, suggestions and concerns were raised from the audience.

NFU Scotland members are keen that the new campus caters for the needs of students and will be an attractive place for students to come and stay when they are deciding where to study.

Although not part of the current consultation, the members also took the opportunity to discuss the provision of a core farming education at Craibstone which the local farming community in the north east is keen to work with SRUC to ensure that all students on completion of their course have the relevant farming experience and knowledge.

Concerns were raised that there is a divergence between what the farming industry requires and what may be provided by way of education.

‘There was fantastic interaction’

NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick, who chaired the event, thanked all speakers for their input throughout:

“There was fantastic interaction from the very broad-based audience, covering all age groups. Many participants were north east-based, but there were also people taking part from Shetland, Orkney, the Borders and Dumfries.

It was excellent to have such interest and participation tonight, which serves to illustrate the passion and enthusiasm our members have for the future of SRUC’s Craibstone facility. SRUC confirmed that student numbers have risen significantly and the importance of Craibstone as a teaching facility is set to grow.

“We look forward to working more closely with SRUC, and I am delighted that both Professor Wayne Powell and Faculty Dean Caroline Argo agreed that they would remain in close contact with our regional board to ensure dialogue continued with NFU Scotland.”

Professor Caroline Argo, Dean of SRUC’s North Faculty, said:

“We are fully committed to our dispersed, tertiary model of delivering education and skills that includes the north east of Scotland and were pleased to hear the views of the farming community.

The proposed concepts for the development of the Craibstone campus that were presented to NFUS members reflects the major changes that are taking place in agriculture and the changing expectations of our customers.

“This includes the disruptive technological innovations that are an integral part of the agri-food revolution.

“We are also keen to work with the NFU Scotland and others to establish a broadly based stakeholder engagement group to help shape our education and skills offering in the region,” she concluded.