STUDENTS and staff at Scotland's Rural College are well supported, particularly with regard to mental health.

That is the verdict of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, which sent in a team of five independent experts to review SRUC earlier this year, and has now commended the college in four areas:

  • its effective mechanisms for identifying and supporting students' individual needs;
  • its communication with members of staff;
  • its approach to academic staff development;
  • its development of a Health and Wellbeing Strategy delivered through a range of initiatives involving both staff and students.

Students told QAA reviewers that they are well supported and that the help on offer, especially from academic staff, is delivered effectively.

The report did make a number of recommendations to SRUC, asking it to:

• review the needs and experience of students studying by distance learning to ensure they are effectively supported;

• enhance the ways in which data sets are used to support decision making around students' learning experiences;

• review the balance of responsibilities and accountability between the academic committees and operational structures, ensuring there can be informed debate on learning and teaching and the wider student experience;

• conclude work aimed at ensuring there is greater consistency in the timeliness of assessment feedback provided to students.

SRUC academic director Jamie Newbold said: "We're immensely pleased to have been commended for our work to support our students, particularly around mental health. It is a real demonstration to the positive relationships between our students, the Students Association, lecturers and our support teams. There is a lot more we want to do in the space and we continually work with students to find ways to better support their needs.

"We'd like to thank the review team for their approach to the ELIR and for their recommendations on areas where we can improve, which are ongoing areas of activity. As part of our transformation into a 21st Century Rural Enterprise University at the heart of the rural economy, this feedback is invaluable. We are already taking steps through appointing new people, ongoing projects and new support structures that will help us meet the recommendations and use them as platform for constant enhancement and improvement."