A MULTI-MILLION-pound investment package is set to help the Barony campus near Parkgate, Dumfries expand further as a rural centre of educational excellence.
In the coming years the 260-hectare estate, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) could double the current 300 student roll.
David Mundell, Dumfriesshire Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP, was briefed on latest developments on a tour of the site, hosted by Professor Nick Sparks, Dean of SRUC’s South and West Faculty.
More than £30m worth of investment will potentially be needed at the long-established campus over five years to roll out the blueprint which brings together teaching, learning, research, consultancy and other activities.
The Scottish Funding Council has examined the business case for the current proposals and there are hopes of additional expansion supported through the Borderlands Growth Deal.
Professor Sparks said students, living both on and off campus, were drawn from the region and around the UK and Ireland with a wide range of courses offered, some up to degree level.
The development and modernisation programme, he revealed, would make the Barony an even better place to study and work and will give extra opportunities to broaden services and courses.
“It is a very exciting time for us as we make even greater use of the space and facilities we have,” said Professor Sparks.
Mr Mundell said he was greatly impressed by everything he saw during his tour, which included the working dairy unit, engineering, forestry, agricultural and veterinary nursing departments.
He also viewed the South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital, run by an independent charity based in the college grounds.
He said: “The Barony has always been a great asset to the region and it is encouraging that the even greater potential it offers has been recognised.
“I always enjoy my visits to the campus. The encouragement and expertise of the lecturers and other staff is rewarded by a strong sense of engagement and enthusiasm which was evident among the students I met.
“The expansion plans are a shot in the arm for the Dumfriesshire part of my constituency.”