Sunday Herald article about Crichton Campus Struggle

Sunday Herald Article – 24th February


Crichton hopeful of luring back Glasgow University

Troubled campus knows cache of old institution will help profile

A POSSIBLE reprieve is on the horizon for the troubled Crichton campus in Dumfries, with news that a new academic strategy is being drawn up in a bid to prevent Glasgow University leaving the institution.

In a rare newspaper interview, Crichton boss Gordon Mann OBE told the Sunday Herald that a commitment to a “new academic strategy” for the campus was agreed at a “very positive” meeting that he and local councillors had with deputy first minister Nicol Stephen last week.

The Crichton campus in Dumfries is Scotland’s first multi-institutional campus, hosting Glasgow University, Paisley University, Bell College, and Dumfries and Galloway College.

But it is facing turbulent times, with Glasgow announcing its intention to withdraw from Crichton, the forthcoming arrival of the entire Dumfries and Galloway College, as well as a future merger between Paisley University and Bell College to create the West of Scotland University.It is hoped the strategy will not only outline each partner’s remit but will also examine whether or not Glasgow should continue its role at the campus.

Mann, who is managing director of Crichton Development Company, said: “Our point is that Glasgow should not make a decision to pull out until after that strategy has been prepared.

“If the strategy says there isn’t a role for them then we will work with that, but if the strategy says they are critical, as we believe they are, then we should build on that.”

At Friday’s meeting, the point was made to ministers that Glasgow University’s position within the campus was “very relevant” to the economy of the south of Scotland.

Mann claims 90% of all graduates go on to get jobs in the local area.

With courses on offer by Glasgow University ranging from tourism and heritage to renewable energies development, Mann says these are not just important to the campus but to the country, too.

The university took the decision to withdraw from the campus after citing an £879,000 annual deficit and has stopped new admissions, stating it intends to leave within three years, once current students have graduated.

Mann says he is keen to have the new strategy in place as quickly as possible to retain public confidence in the Crichton campus.

Even with the newly established West of Scotland University on the horizon and the introduction of the Dumfries and Galloway College to Crichton campus, Mann admits that Glasgow withdrawing would mean losing the cache the institution brings.

“We need to think positively here. We have the prospect of one of the most exciting innovative educational developments in the country.”

Mann said Dumfries and Galloway should follow in the Highlands’ footsteps after they successfully proved how important higher education is to improving the local area.

He said: “There’s a strong argument to say there needs to be more resources put forward to the area to deal with the population, employment and economic problems that we suffer.

“What is very clear is that higher education is playing a significant part in the regeneration of the High-land economy. We have a similar problem and think a similar solution will work.”

The UHI Millennium Institute in Inverness is currently in the process of securing university accreditation, which they hope to have this year.

A statement from Glasgow University said the funding at the Crichton campus had been an issue for “some years” and blamed the Scottish Funding Council for refusing to give it more money.

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