College aims to dou­ble in size

The Oban Times - - NEWS - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

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.

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