Russell praises rural colleges

Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong LearningEducation Secretary highlights vital work being carried out locally to tackle recession

Scotland’s rural colleges have ‘led the way’ in reacting to the global economic downturn and will spearhead the recovery in their local communities, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell said today.

More than a year ago, Scotland’s three leading “landbased” vocational colleges joined forces to share best practice, boost rural industries while increasing recruitment and skill levels.

Elmwood College in Fife, Oatridge College in West Lothian, and Barony College in Dumfries, have cut costs and maximised opportunities by jointly marketing themselves at home and abroad as Scottish Countryside Colleges (SCC).

Their close relationship has see them carry out a wide-reaching consultation that has reacted to the tough economic conditions facing further and higher education by ensuring there is no duplication of courses and that training matches demand.

Their swift action reflects decisions being taken by rural colleges throughout Scotland.

Speaking after a meeting a Parliament with rural college principals, Mr Russell said:

“Now, perhaps more than ever before, Scotland’s colleges have a vital role to play in ensuring our nation’s prosperity. It has come as no surprise to me, as a representative of a largely rural area, that Scotland’s rural colleges have led the way by providing an important bulwark against the recession.

“They were among the first to react when times got hard and have not shied away from making the tough decisions needed to ensure that we continue to our people with the skills they need.

“I have seen for myself the vital work they carry out in their local communities, be it helping smaller companies with research to drive their businesses forward or by reacting to changing demand.

“The development of Scottish Countryside Colleges is an example of seeing the bigger picture and preparing for the future that we can all take a lesson from.”