A MULTI-MILLION pound investment package is helping the Barony campus, near Parkgate, Dumfries expand further as a rural centre of educational excellence.
In the coming years, the 260 hectare estate, part of Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), could see the current 300 student roll double.
Dumfriesshire Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell was briefed on latest developments on a tour of the site hosted by Professor Nick Sparks, Dean of SRUC's South and West Faculty.
More than £30 million will be invested at the long-established campus over the next five years, bringing together teaching, learning, research, consultancy and other activities.
The Scottish Funding Council has approved the business case for the current proposals and there are hopes of additional expansion supported through the Borderlands Growth Deal.
Professor Sparks explained that students, both living on and off campus, were drawn from the region and across the United Kingdom and Irish Republic with a wide range of courses offered, some up to degree level.
The development and modernisation programme, he revealed, would make the Barony a better place to study, work and will provide additional opportunities to broaden services and courses.
"It is a very exciting time for us as we make even greater use of the space and facilities we have," said Professor Sparks.
The local MP and former Scottish Secretary stated he was greatly impressed by everything he saw during his latest tour, which included the working dairy unit, engineering, forestry, agriculture, engineering and veterinary nursing departments.
He also viewed the South of Scotland Wildlife Hospital, run by an independent charity based in the college grounds.
Mr Mundell said: "The Barony has always been a great asset to the region and it is encouraging that the even greater potential it offers has been recognised.
"I always enjoy my visits to the campus. The encouragement and expertise of the lecturers and other staff is rewarded by a strong sense of engagement and enthusiasm, which came through from the students I met."
He added: "The expansion plans are a shot in the arm for the Dumfriesshire part of my constituency."