New institute is launched

Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell is to launch a major new partnership for the south-west of Scotland at the Crichton Campus in Dumfries on Monday, March 11, at 11am.

The Crichton Institute will be a collaborative venture bringing together a number of academic and business partners, local government and regional development bodies and is funded through a grant of almost £1 million from the Scottish Funding Council.

Four priority themes will guide the initial focus of the institute: the rural economy and skills development, community development and placemaking, the impacts of demographic change, and influencing policy and practice.

Mr Russell said: “This launch is significant as it will develop the existing good relationships the Crichton Institute has with business, the local community and other bodies in the south of Scotland to give students the best possible opportunities and deliver graduates ready to meet the needs of employers.

“Bringing together a wider range of experiences, expertise and ideas has incredible potential.”

In August 2012 the Scottish Funding Council awarded a four-year funding package of £961,000 to the partner bodies to develop a programme of applied research, business engagement and policy development. In addition to this, a regional observatory is to be established that will act as a one-stop access point for information, analysis and evaluation of opportunities and issues facing the area.

Speaking on behalf of the campus partners, Professor David Clark of the University of Glasgow, who currently chairs the Institute Executive Group, said: “The concept of the Crichton Institute has been developing and adapting in recent years and, as part of that development, partners both on and off the campus have felt we could do more to expand the ways in which the higher and further education institutions can better support the local community in the challenges they face in the rural south-west.

“Economic, social and environmental issues are increasingly global in scale, but there is strong evidence that while many of the problems are global, some of the solutions are regional and local. To help that process of strong regional development, however, you need a robust evidence-based approach to business support, social policy and taking advantage of community development and environmental opportunities. This is what will drive the work of Crichton Institute.”

The Crichton Institute is a collaborative venture involving the University of Glasgow, University of the West of Scotland, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Dumfries and Galloway College and the Open University. Wider strategic partners include Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Borders Council, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Enterprise (South), Regional Chambers of Commerce, Small Business Federation, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Southern Uplands Partnership and the Crichton Carbon Centre.