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Scotland’s Rural College

2018 Full Inspection Report
Areas for development
  • Despite the fact that the achievement rate for FE FT students continues to be above target and above the sector average, the trend in achievement rates for the past three years is decreasing i.e. from 71.4% in 2015/16 to 70.1% in 2016/17 down to 68.3% in 2017/18.
  • In 2017-18, SRUC’s official return for care experienced students indicates relatively low numbers i.e. 7 declared at enrolment with 4 being successful. However internal figures suggest the actual rates are higher and that SRUC experienced a significant increase in the number of FE students declaring that they were care experienced i.e. 46, of which, 24 (52%) successfully achieved their qualifications. Unfortunately, a high proportion of these students withdrew from their programmes, which ultimately affected the success rates for the group, which is 5.2pp below the sector outcome (57.2%) for 2016-17. Reasons for the discrepancy in recording (and potentially the high withdrawal rates) warrants further investigation and follow up action.
  • The proportion of credits delivered to learners in the most deprived postcode areas (SIMD10) has decreased by 0.5pp and is currently 1.7pp behind the institutional target. SRUC strives to meet recruitment targets with limited opportunities for implementing specific selection criteria above the minimum entry requirements. Almost all students who meet these standards are accepted for admission. SRUC recognises the need to expand provision to this target group within the constraints of the rural nature of land based provision. Unfortunately, the achievement rate for FE FT students in this category dropped from 61.4% in 16-17 to 56.6%, which is 9.4pp behind the institutional target of 66%.
  • Within a few FE FT programme areas e.g. NC Introduction to Horticulture, NC Introduction to Land Based Engineering and Advanced Certificate in Arboriculture and Forestry, the average achievement rates are below the Scottish national average resulting in some learners not achieving successful outcomes. These programmes will be subject to ongoing scrutiny as part of the annual monitoring process which should ultimately improve the consistency of outcomes for all learners.
  • SRUC is actively developing and promoting school/college partnerships across the regions with the intention of meeting and potentially exceeding the target credit delivery to S3 and Senior Phase pupils in 2018-19 and beyond.
  • The availability of detailed labour market intelligence (LMI) for some of the land based sectors is limited. Discussions with staff indicate that there are currently more formal and effective opportunities to consider LMI in relation to the development and redevelopment of HE programmes as part of Institution Led Review (ILR). The ILR process has now been expanded to include all FE delivery so consideration of LMI will be further developed as this change becomes embedded. The utilisation of LMI data would be enhanced by the availability of improved LMI for land based areas. SRUC will work with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to look at how SRUC can further enhance the capture and use of labour market intelligence, which can been obtained through the Regional Skills Assessment exercises.
  • Although there are multiple opportunities for learners to provide feedback, engagement with surveys continues to be poor. On discussion, almost all learners were unable to identify how their views are used to improve or develop future curriculum plans and apart from Class Representatives, learners are unaware of what happens with the feedback they provide.
  • Discussions have been held with Skills Development Scotland (SDS), to improve the access to careers advice on some campuses. However access to Careers Advisers on each site is still variable. Dialogue with local SDS offices are taking place to identify the measures to put in place to address this.
  • SRUC is currently consulting with staff on what makes a good teaching room or learning space, with a view to developing classrooms for the future. Consideration should be given to the creation of a bespoke blended learning strategy, which incorporates both hard and software needs with teaching and learning and a staff development strategy.
  • Actions to take account of the Scottish Government priority to address Gender Based Violence (GBV) are being developed and will be implemented in 2018-19. This will include an emphasis on respect through valuing diversity.
  • SRUC continues to explore the option of introducing a portal, which will act as a single access point for students and staff to access key systems and data that support their day to day activities. The aim is to use this portal to improve all student’s engagement with SRUC using a dynamic and modern approach.
  • SRUC will continue to develop and embed the new strategic direction and supporting infrastructure over the period of the next four years, with a view to achieving University status by 2021 and growing revenue to £100 million by 2023.
  • Engagement between the SRUC Board and the wider staff and student body continues to be limited. In 2018–19, the structure of the Academic Board will be reviewed to enable SRUC to meet the requirements of the Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016 in this academic year i.e. ahead of the 2020 deadline. This will significantly increase the number of staff involved in Academic Governance and decision making.
  • Access to live performance data via an easy to use “dashboard” system would be beneficial to managers and programme leaders in order to enhance the cyclical nature of monitoring.
  • Learner satisfaction as measured by the SFC Student Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, has been consistently high (i.e. above 85%) for both full time and part time FE students for the past three years. Full-time satisfaction rates increased to 88% while part-time increased to 95.7% in 2017-18. However engagement rates for this survey remain poor so increasing participation to levels that will provide statistically reliable information remains a priority in 2018-19.
  • All delivery should be included in the annual monitoring reports, however a few programme areas have not included the schools provision. This should be addressed in 2018-19.

Report Recommendations