THE latest addition to the Scottish FE fleet is Argyll College, which was opened officially last week by Alasdair Morrison, the Highlands and Islands Minister, after three years of development.
The pound;2 million college, which is not an FE provider itself, links students at eight remote centres to trained staff and distance learning courses available from existing FE colleges. So far 186 students have enrolled and more are expected as the centres become fully operational.
Capital funding has come from a wide range of sources, including the local council and enterprise company, the Millennium Commission, the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) project and the European Regional Development Fund.
Mr Morrison said Argyll College,which has a state of the art computer network, reflected the Executive's view that "colleges must take education right into the heart of communities, easing transport and access problems for potential students".
The new learning centres are at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, Campbeltown, Dunoon, Rothesay, Tiree, Bowmore on Islay, and Fionnphort and Tobermory on Mull. A ninth will open on Arran in September in conjunction with James Watt College in Greenock. Another is planned for mid-
Argyll, probably in Lochgilphead.
Although the college, which has appointed 14 staff so far, is based on the distance learning principles of the UHI, it stresses that "personal contact and support for learners is central to the college philosophy".