The Stirling centre for further education set up by Falkirk College will start courses this month, even though the building is not due to open until January. Until then, 150 students will be temporarily housed at Stirling's Enterprise Park.
Among the initial limited range of courses will be a year's full-time immersion in Gaelic at National Certificate level, eventually taking advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities in the centre. In addition to language skills, it will introduce literature and culture and develop information technology skills. One aim is to cater to people who want to go on to vocational training in, for example, child care and education using Gaelic.
Brian Wilson, minister for Gaelic as well as education, welcomed the initiative. "Courses like this are undoubtedly the key to rapid expansion in the language competence of Gaelic learners, and Gaelic education is the key to the future strength of the language." Of the Scottish Office's Pounds 11. 7 million annual budget for Gaelic, Pounds 2.1 million goes to educational projects.
Graham Clark, Falkirk principal, said full-time courses in health and care studies, the needs of small business, information technology, tourism and art and design would start at the enterprise park and be supplemented by part-time courses when the centre is ready. "The idea is to reflect the needs of Stirling, which is an administrative centre with small businesses."