Scotland's Rural College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Scottish Agricultural College)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Scotland's Rural College
Scotland's Rural College logo.png
TypeLand based college
Established1899; 122 years ago (1899)[a]
PrincipalWayne Powell
Administrative staff
Students1,570 (2019/20)[1]
Undergraduates1,485 (2019/20)[1]
Postgraduates85 (2019/20)[1]
United Kingdom

Scotland's Rural College (initialised as SRUC) is a higher education, consulting and research institution focused on agriculture. The current organisation of the institution came into being through a merger of land based colleges Barony College, Elmwood College, Oatridge College and the Scottish Agricultural College.

The institution's history stretches back to 1899 with the establishment of the West of Scotland Agricultural College. The Edinburgh and East of Scotland College of Agriculture and the Aberdeen and North of Scotland College of Agriculture were later established in the early 20th century. These three colleges were merged into the Scottish Agricultural College in 1990. On 1 October 2012, the Scottish Agricultural College was merged with Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge colleges to form SRUC.

SRUC has six campuses across Scotland. Students study land based courses from further education to postgraduate level. Degrees are currently awarded by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow depending on the course of study. The institution also has a consulting division, SAC Consulting, which works with clients in rural businesses and associated industries and has a research division which carries out research in the agriculture and rural sector.


Scottish Agricultural College[edit]

Three agricultural colleges were created in the east, north and west of Scotland around the close of the 19th century. They fulfilled a critical need to transfer the growing scientific knowledge of agricultural issues like soil condition, drainage, use of manures and animal diseases, to farmers and the general public.

In 1899, Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College's agriculture department amalgamated with the Scottish Dairy Institute to form the West of Scotland Agricultural College. Originally based in Blythswood Square, Glasgow, the institution began moving to Ayrshire when in 1927 the Auchincruive estate near Ayr was left to the college by the late John Hannah of Girvan Mains. In 1974, the Blythswood Square site was closed.[2]

The Edinburgh and East of Scotland College of Agriculture was formed in 1901 and carried out experimental work in agriculture and animal breeding in south-east Scotland. Its main premises were in George Square, Edinburgh, and these were expanded in 1904 to a design by Thomas Purves Marwick architects.[3] The college also had experimental grounds at Pinkie Hill Farm, Inveresk.[4] In 1913, the college and the University of Edinburgh formed the Joint Committee on Research in Animal Breeding which would research genetics.[5][6]

The North of Scotland College of Agriculture began in 1904 in Aberdeen through grants from ten benefactors including most of the local councils nearby. In 1914, it moved to the Craibstone Estate which is still a campus today.

The West of Scotland Agricultural College, East of Scotland College of Agriculture and North of Scotland College of Agriculture were three of ten central institutions noted in 1906 as providing technical instruction and sound scientific instruction meeting the "continuation class code" set of regulations drawn up in 1901.[7]

Scottish Agricultural Colleges was established in 1987 as a company to provide direct management of advisory and veterinary functions of the regional colleges. In 1990, the East of Scotland College of Agriculture was merged with the West of Scotland Agricultural College and the North of Scotland College of Agriculture into the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), a single higher education and research institution specialising in agriculture. SAC's three main divisions offered research, education and consultancy.[8] This new specialist college was one of the largest of its type in Europe, and the largest in the UK.[9] SAC offered undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from its three campuses in Ayr, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, as well as training and online study on topics including the environment, business, leisure, agriculture, horticulture and science. The college offered HNC and HND courses, as well as degrees, awarded by the University of Glasgow or the University of Edinburgh.

A proposal to merge SAC with Barony College, Elmwood College and Oatridge College was put to public consultation between March and May 2012.[10] Education Secretary Mike Russell voiced support for the merger in June 2012,[11] and SRUC formally came into existence on 1 October 2012.[12][13] The work of the SAC in education and training, research and development and consultancy services, would be continued by SRUC.[14]

Barony College[edit]

Before it became a college, the 300 acre Barony estate had a varied existence. It was an elegant home, a home for the elderly, a wartime army training camp and, up until 1947, a prisoner of war camp. In 1949 Dumfries County Council education department purchased the estate with the purpose of turning it into an agricultural school. The Barony Farm School opened in 1953, with a class 46 boys of 14 to 15 years of age.

Day release classes in agriculture and engineering began in 1962. 10 years later, the school became Barony Agricultural College. From the 1970s, courses on offer expanded to include NC awards in agriculture, fish farming, forestry, countryside rangers, horticulture, animal care, veterinary nursing and equine studies. By this time, most students at the college were studying full time.

A new teaching block, complete with a large sports hall, multigym and bar, was opened in 1992. The new millennium brought extra investment in animal care and veterinary nursing, an equine unit and a forestry technology centre. The dairy technology centre with a robotic milking system was opened in 2006.

Elmwood College[edit]

SRUC's Elmwood campus in Cupar, Fife
Former logo of Elmwood College

Elmwood College was founded as Elmwood Agricultural and Technical College in 1972 as a rural further education institution based in Cupar, Fife. Its foundations were laid 20 years earlier when holding classes in the local school and cricket club before the education committee of Fife County Council acquired some land and erected a Nissen hut. This was followed by the purchase of Elmwood House, Gardens and Greenhouses in 1953 for £2,300. In 1956, the first day release classes in Scotland for agricultural and horticultural apprentices commenced at Elmwood Agricultural Centre. Elmwood College continued expanding during the 1960s and a new building was completed in 1972. By then Elmwood had also acquired Stratheden Hospital Farm.

Elmwood College was officially opened in 1972 by Hector Monro.[15] The Scottish Technical Education Consultative Council had made recommendations in 1967 around establishing regional farm centres. The college had started classes about twenty years earlier, with student numbers rising from 100 to around 2000 by 1972.[15] There were full-time as well as part-time courses, work based courses, and modern apprenticeships. Before the purpose-built building opened in 1972, classes had been held on borrowed premises over a few years.[16] A 350-acre farm was attached to the college and it offered courses such as hill-farming and shepherding.[15]

A college with a part-focus on golf education, Elmwood opened its own 18-hole working golf course in 1997.[17] Construction of a golf course began in 1995 with attention given to both the quality of the course and consideration of the local environment; the course was Geo Certified in 2013.

Elmwood College became a campus of Scotland's Rural College in October 2013. It continued teaching land-based courses, with a focus on golf and greenkeeping. There are three parts to Elmwood campus. The main campus is on Carslogie Road, Cupar. The second campus is at Stratheden, which is where the college's golf course is based. Cuparmuir Farm is the third campus, where most of the land-based courses are taught.

Oatridge College[edit]

Oatridge Agricultural College was established as a residential further education college specialising in agriculture and rural skills training in Ecclesmachan, West Lothian in 1969, with an initial intake of 45 residential students and 100 day students.[18] The college was local-authority owned by West Lothian District Council, having been established by a consortium of the district councils of West Lothian, Midlothian, East Lothian, Peebles, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Berwickshire.[19]

The courses were initially taught in temporary accommodation on the farm site. New college buildings, workshops and accommodation were officially opened by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1974, and provided facilities for courses in agriculture, agricultural engineering, green keeping, horse care and forestry.[18]


SRUC has six education campuses located throughout Scotland, each offering varied land-based education courses.[20]

The Aberdeen campus is based on Craibstone Estate about 5 miles (8.0 km) outside Aberdeen in the north east of Scotland. As well as halls of residence and a library, the campus also boasts many sporting opportunities. Courses on offer in Aberdeen include agriculture, organic farming and countryside and environmental management.

The Ayr campus is shared with students from the University of the West of Scotland. The £81 million facility was opened in September 2011 and was awarded the internationally recognised BREEAM excellence rating for its environmentally friendly design.[citation needed] As well as student accommodation, the campus has library, sporting activities and opportunities for climbing and horse riding. Courses on offer in Ayr include Agricultural Bioscience and Green Technology.

Barony campus is set in a working 260 hectares (2.6 km2) estate in Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland. As well as the usual student facilities such as library and accommodation, the campus is home to the Scottish dairy technology centre and the Scottish Forestry Technology Centre. Courses on offer at Barony include animal care and forestry and arboriculture.

The King's Buildings campus is located on the south side of Edinburgh. This location allows students to access the University of Edinburgh's academic and recreational facilities, with which it shares the campus. As well as libraries and cafes, the campus also has sporting amenities and bus links to the city centre. Courses on offer in Edinburgh include horticulture, applied animal science and rural resource management. The SRUC also has research facilities at the Easter Bush estate.

SRUC's Elmwood campus is based in Cupar, a small town in Fife approximately nine miles from St Andrews. As well having as a golf course, students can use badminton, table tennis, football and gym facilities. Courses on offer at Elmwood include conservation, greenkeeping and gamekeeping.

Situated in West Lothian, SRUC's Oatridge campus is set on a large estate which includes a working farm. As well as a student accommodation and a library, there is also a nine-hole golf course, and the campus is home to the Scottish National Equestrian Centre (SNEC). Courses on offer at Oatridge include farriery and forge work, and land-based engineering.

Academic profile[edit]

The institution will work towards gaining the status of a university college with degree awarding powers, hence the SRUC initialism.[21][22] SRUC is a registered charity under Scottish law.[23] As of October 2012, the combined college had around 8,000 students and 1,500 staff.[24] In April 2016, after two years without a principal, SRUC appointed Professor Wayne Powell to the position.[25]

The further education and degree programmes at Scotland's Rural College are grouped into six main departments: Agriculture and Business Management, Animal and Equine, Engineering, Science and Technology, Environment and Countryside, Horticulture and Landscape, and Sport and Tourism.

Students can study courses which range from vocational and access level through undergraduate programmes covering HNC, HND and undergraduate degree courses, to taught postgraduate programmes and PhDs.

The institution's consulting division, SAC Consulting, works with more than 12,000 clients in rural businesses and associated industries. The consulting arm has 26 offices located both in Scotland and in the north of England, as well as eight veterinary surveillance centres. SRUC's research division operates in six research centres, and SRUC also runs eight farms for both research and educational purposes.


SRUC's research division is divided into four interdisciplinary research groups; each of which are devoted to different, often overlapping, areas of land-based research.

  • Animal Health and Veterinary Science Group
  • Crop and Soil Systems Research Group
  • Future Farming Systems Research Group
  • Land Economy, Environment and Society Research Group

Notable academic staff[edit]

Academic Robert Wallace helped found the college in Edinburgh and set up Bachelor of Science degree programmes. Governors of the college have included pioneering technical educator Henry Dyer and agriculturist and Liberal Party politician Maitland Mackie. Victor Hope, 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow (an agriculturist who was later Governor-General of India) served as a president of the college in the early 1930s. William Gammie Ogg (a chemist and director of the Rothamsted Experimental Station) worked as an advisory officer. Government agricultural adviser Arthur Wannop was an adviser and later director of county work. Academics Ernest Shearer and Stephen John Watson successively served in the role of principal of the college in addition to their role of professor of agriculture at the University of Edinburgh. Margaret Farquhar, later Lord Provost of Aberdeen, had been a clerk at the college before entering local government.

Botanists who have worked at the college have included Martin Ford (later a Green Party politician), Noel Farnie Robertson (who ran the partnership between the college and the University of Edinburgh), William Gardner Smith and Edward Wyllie Fenton. Alexander Lauder and Hugh Nicol were both chemists who lectured there. Nutritional physiologist John Boyd Orr, later a president of the National Peace Council and winner of the 1949 Nobel Peace Prize, ran the college's joint committee for research into animal nutrition with the University of Aberdeen. Mycologist and plant pathologist Richard William George Dennis researched oat pathology at the college. Allen Kerr, a professor of plant pathology at University of Adelaide known for his study of crown gall, worked as an assistant mycologist and Alan Gemmell, the first professor of biology at Keele University, as an agricultural researcher. Veterinary surgeon William Christopher Miller lectured in animal hygiene and decorated Scout leader Alec Spalding MBE was an agricultural economist at the college. Entomologist Daniel MacLagan served as head of the zoology department and William Whigham Fletcher as head of botany in Glasgow. Academic Allison Bailey worked at the college before moving to New Zealand to become professor of farm management at Lincoln University.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ as West of Scotland Agricultural College; Barony, Oatridge, Elmwood colleges were merged with the Scottish Agricultural College in 2012.
  2. ^ located in Dumfries and Galloway
  3. ^ located in Cupar, Fife
  4. ^ located in Edinburgh
  5. ^ located in West Lothian


  1. ^ a b c "Where do HE students study?". HESA. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  2. ^ "West of Scotland Agricultural College". Archives of Scottish Higher Education. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  3. ^ Dictionary of Scottish Architects - DSA Building/Design Report accessed 23 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Looking Back articles - News". East Lothian News. October 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  5. ^ NAHSTE: Records of the Institute of Animal Genetics Archived 20 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine accessed 23 March 2012.
  6. ^ NAHSTE: Records of the Institute of Animal Genetics Archived 20 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine accessed 23 March 2012.
  7. ^ John Kerr, M.A., LL.D. (1910) Scottish Education - Schools and University, From early times to 1908, Cambridge University Press
  8. ^ Archives of Scottish Higher Education, accessed 23 March 2012.
  9. ^ "West of Scotland Agricultural College". Archives of Scottish Higher Education. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Merger Consultation is Underway". SRUC. 26 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Land-based Colleges Welcome Education Secretary's Parliamentary Statement of Support". SRUC. 28 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Agricultural colleges merge to create training hub for rural industries". STV News. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  13. ^ "SRUC Launch Strengthens Support for Agriculture and Rural Sector". SRUC. 2 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Colleges merge to form Scotland's Rural College". Farmers' Weekly. 2 October 2012.
  15. ^ a b c Morrison, Ian (16 May 1972). "More effort needed to sell farm training". The Glasgow Herald.
  16. ^ "Agricultural & Technical College, Cupar". Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Now study is par for the course". The Herald. 31 July 1997. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
  18. ^ a b Scotland's Rural College (3 December 2019). "Search for golden memories as Oatridge turns 50". SRUC Alumni and Friends. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  19. ^ "Oatridge Agricultural College". Ecclesmachan. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Campuses and Offices". SRUC. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  21. ^ "SRUC Launch Strengthens Support for Agriculture and Rural Sector". SRUC. 2 October 2012.
  22. ^ SRUC Boards and Committees Remits and Structures document, 2012
  23. ^ "SRUC, Registered Charity no. SC003712". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  24. ^ Arbuckle, Andrew (1 October 2012). "Comment: New rural education power takes to the European stage". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  25. ^ Arbuckle, Andrew (27 April 2016). "Wayne Powell appointed as new SRUC principal". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 August 2016.