Saving the Crichton Campus in Dumfries has created an institution which will contribute more than £300 million to the South of Scotland economy.
The growing success was outlined today at a conference which mapped out the plans for campus over the next ten years.
Education Secretary Michael Russell highlighted the importance of offering higher education in rural areas of Scotland during his keynote speech at the conference, The Crichton Campus – The Next Decade 2010 – 2020.
The Crichton University Campus is Scotland’s first multi-institutional campus, providing a base for the University of the West of Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway College as well as Glasgow University.
It faced the possibility of closure in February 2007 when the University of Glasgow announced that it had decided not to admit any new undergraduate students to the Crichton campus citing an annual deficit of more than #800,000.
However, it was saved later that year after the Scottish Government announced that it would provide additional funding of #1.5 million to the Scottish Funding Council to support the development of the campus.
It has since expanded with the Crichton development expected to boost economic activity in Dumfries & Galloway by approximately #311 million per year.
It now educates around 1,000 higher education students, along with approximately 7,500 college learners. As well as its main campus in Dumfries, the Crichton also has a second campus 75 miles away at Stranraer and a smaller centre in Newton Stewart.
Mr Russell said:
“The Crichton campus stands for many things. It stands for having a vision, holding on to it and, through drive, determination and effective collaboration, making it happen.
“The Government fully appreciates the crucial role the college plays in the economic development of the south-west. That is why we provided the funding necessary to secure the future of the campus back in 2007.
“Its continued success is an excellent example of what, with collaboration and a wealth of imaginative thinking, can be achieved to meet the learning needs of people in rural areas. In fact the campus has not just continued but has expanded and I am delighted to see rising applications and long-term plans being set out.
“The importance of enabling local people to develop their skills and careers without having to leave the area cannot be overestimated. I would like to see the lessons learnt here in Dumfries shared with institutions throughout Scotland so we can open access to higher education ever further.”