On the 12th of February we sent the below statement to SRUC around the proposed changes to Skiffington cottage on Elmwood campus. We have asked SRUC to state commitment to providing support and inclusivity facilities to students at SRUC.
“It is our understanding that Skiffington Cottage provides a unique facility to further enhance support and inclusivity on offer to students, both in a residential and social capacity. The layout and specialist equipment within the cottage aims to support students who may be blind, partially sighted, have access requirements or require a discreet space, away from the busy college or main residence. This facility is key for students with different needs to be able take part in the student and campus experience. The cottage stands as a symbol towards SRUC’s commitment to allow accessibility in the rural economy, providing inclusivity and an opportunity for all to work in the sector.
Removing, and not replacing this facility shows that SRUC is no longer committed to inclusivity and educating a diverse workforce for the rural sector, both within Scotland and internationally. Discussions with Elmwood support staff highlighted the cottage has been used in a student support capacity. However, since the handover to residences in 2017, it has not been utilised to its full potential or, to my knowledge, advertised by SRUC.
SRUCSA would like to see SRUC state a commitment as part of the Equality Diversity & Inclusivity, for SRUC to provide support and inclusivity facilities such as this and make these easily accessible to students.
If SRUC decides Skiffington Cottage is to be repurposed, we would expect that a facility of equal inclusivity or more be made available for students. We would request that all equipment be moved to a suitable accessible location for students to use.
The Skiffington Trust, who gave £55,000 to fund the cottage, refer to the cottage and the facilities it provides as a funded community asset. Hosted on their website here and here. We feel it would be appropriate for SRUC to engage with stakeholders before any further actions are taken.
We would also expect that going forward SRUC involves SRUCSA with consultations concerning any change that will affect the facilities available to students.”