College aims to double in size
ARGYLL College’s Oban campus is looking to double its size to cope with increasing numbers of students, staff and courses.
With a 20 per cent growth in the student population and 28 per cent in staff over the past four years, space in Argyll College’s Oban centre is in ‘great demand’, stated a report presented by its financial director, Ailsa Close, to Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee.
The college is therefore seeking extra space, estimated at ‘double the 1,130 square metres’ of its Oban centre at Glenshellach Business Park.
Argyll College UHI, one of 13 partner institutions of the University of the Highlands and Islands, has 1,600 students throughout the region.
Oban is the largest of Argyll College’s nine learning centres, the others being in Campbel- town, Dunoon, Lochgilphead, Arran, Bute, Islay, Mull, Coll and Tiree.
Currently there are 463 students based in Oban, 30 per cent of the entire student population, with 169 full-time students, up 20 per cent over the past five years. The college’s annual graduation in Oban last year was the largest, with 56 qualifications conferred on 100 students.
Similarly, the report stated, the number of staff employed in the Oban centre has increased by 28 per cent since 2014, from 44 teaching staff and 23 support staff. Currently a quarter of Argyll College’s 251 employees are based in Oban.
The college also plans to expand its curriculum, including a BSc in Nursing with practical training at Lorn and Isles District General Hospital, a BA in Rural Business Management, focused on entrepreneurship in coastal communities, and further maritime courses as part of a planned facility near Oban.
The Oban centre outgrew its original location in Dunstaffnage and relocated to Glenshellach Business Park in 2010. But in 2016, ‘ with teaching space becoming a major issue in this centre, the college reconfigured the bottom floor of the building to provide further teaching space. As a result, 11 staff, including the principal, have been moved to temporary accommodation in WHHA [ West Highland Housing Association] offices’. But these changes will not be enough, the report continued: ‘Despite recent re-allocation of space to form two additional teaching rooms, we estimate that we actually require double the 1,130 square metres that the Oban centre represents.
‘ We will need to provide dedicated student accommodation. This is one of the priorities of Oban as a university town.’
The committee noted the contents of the report.