Scotland's Rural College

Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) is a higher education institution that combines education, consulting and research in Scotland. It focuses on agriculture. It was founded in October 2012 through a merger of Barony College, Elmwood College, Oatridge College and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).

Scotland's Rural College
Established2012, merger of Barony, Oatridge, Elmwood Colleges with the Scottish Agricultural College
PrincipalWayne Powell
Administrative staff
Students1,620 (2016/17)[1]
Undergraduates1,520 (2016/17)[1]
Postgraduates100 (2016/17)[1]
Location, ,
United Kingdom

The institution will work towards gaining the status of a university college with degree awarding powers.[2] Until such time, the initialism SRUC is given as the organisation's name to avoid a reference to university college status.[3] SRUC is a registered charity under Scottish law.[4] Degrees are currently awarded by The University of Edinburgh and The University of Glasgow depending on the campus.

SRUC students study land-based courses on sites throughout Scotland from further education to PhD level. The organisation's Research Division carries out research in the agriculture and rural sector while the Consulting Division, SAC Consulting, works with more than 12,000 clients in rural businesses and associated industries. The college has six campuses across Scotland while 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.


Scotland's Rural College's heritage stretches back more than 100 years through smaller institutions which have merged. The current organisation came into being on 1 October 2012 after land-based colleges Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge merged with the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).[5]

Barony College

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 general agriculture and agricultural engineering began 1962, and ten years later the school became the Barony Agricultural College. The 1970s and 1980s saw the range of courses on offer expand to include National Certificates 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, a multigym and a bar was opened in 1992. The new millennium brought massive investment in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing, an Equine Unit and a Forestry Technology Centre. The Dairy Technology Centre was opened in 2006, complete with a robotic milking system.

Elmwood College

While Elmwood College did not officially open its doors until 1972, its foundations were laid 20 years earlier holding classes in the local school and cricket club before Fife County Council Education Committee acquired some land and erected a Nissen hut. This was followed by the purchase of the adjacent property of Elmwood House, Gardens and Greenhouses in 1953 for the sum of £2,300.

In 1956 the first day release classes in Scotland for agricultural and horticultural apprentices commenced at Elmwood Agricultural Centre. Elmwood College continued to expand during the early 1960s and this culminated in the construction of a new building, completed in 1972. By then Elmwood had also acquired Stratheden Hospital Farm. The College was officially opened in 1972 by Sir Hector Munro.

Elmwood is well known for its golf education and construction of the golf course began in 1995 with special attention being given to both the quality of the course and consideration of the local environment. Opened in 1997 the Elmwood course was Geo Certified in 2013; this environmental plaudit is only awarded to courses which prove they are working as sustainable as possible.

The Scottish Agricultural College

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 the agricultural department of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College amalgamated with the Scottish Dairy Institute and formed the West of Scotland Agricultural College. Originally based in Glasgow, the organisation began moving to Ayrshire when in 1927 the Auchincruive estate was left to the College by John Hannah of Girvan Mains.

The Edinburgh and East of Scotland College of Agriculture was formed in 1901 and grew so rapidly its premises in the city's George Square had to be expanded in 1904. In 1913 they formed a Joint Committee on Research in Animal Breeding with the University of Edinburgh.

North of Scotland College of Agriculture (NOSCA) 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.

In 1990 these three major agricultural colleges merged to form the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC). SAC's three main divisions offered research, education and consultancy.


SRUC has six education campuses located throughout Scotland, each offering varied land-based education courses.[6]

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. As well as student accommodation, the campus has a library and a diverse range of sporting activities, including climbing and horse riding, are available. 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 Edinburgh campus is located at the University of Edinburgh's King's Buildings on the south side of the capital. This location allows students to access the university's facilities, both academic and recreational. As well as libraries and cafes the campus also has sporting amenities and is just a ten-minute bus journey from 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 Bush Estate.

SRUC Elmwood is based in Cupar, a small town in Fife approximately nine miles from St Andrews. As well having as a professional golf course, students have the opportunity to play badminton, table tennis and football, or work out in the gym. 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

As of October 2012, the combined college had around 8,000 students and 1,500 staff.[7] In April 2016, after two years without a principal, SRUC appointed Professor Wayne Powell to the position.[8]

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 at all levels – from access courses and vocational studies, through undergraduate programmes covering HNC, HND and undergraduate degree courses, to taught postgraduate programmes and PhDs.


SRUC Research seeks to address major challenges posed by the growing human population, and increasing demand for food, in a world with a potentially dramatically changing climate and with growing pressure on its natural resources. SRUC Research aims to benefit the rural economy and rural communities and enhance their environment.

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: This group is focused on animal science and in particular; genetics, genomics, animal behaviour and welfare, nutrition, disease and epidemiology.
  • Crop and Soil Systems Research Group: This group's hopes to help develop resilient and sustainable systems of crop production that are economically viable, but also environmentally and socially acceptable.
  • Future Farming Systems Research Group: This group aims to understand and engage with farmers and so help improve farming systems both nationally and internationally.
  • Land Economy, Environment and Society Research Group: This group's research aims to improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of rural areas.

See also


  1. "2016/17 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (CSV). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  2. "SRUC Launch Strengthens Support for Agriculture and Rural Sector". SRUC. 2 October 2012.
  3. SRUC Boards and Committees Remits and Structures document, 2012
  4. "SRUC, Registered Charity no. SC003712". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  5. "Agricultural colleges merge to create training hub for rural industries". STV News. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  6. "Campuses and Offices". SRUC. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  7. Arbuckle, Andrew (1 October 2012). "Comment: New rural education power takes to the European stage". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  8. Arbuckle, Andrew (27 April 2016). "Wayne Powell appointed as new SRUC principal". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
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