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Priory Square Building, Brighton University, Hastings

Campus survives but new sustainable model will be developed, says University of Brighton

Hastings campus is not sustainable in the longer term, the University of Brighton has concluded. It will now seek to develop a “new model” of higher education provision in the town, in conjunction with Sussex Coast College Hastings. But a withdrawal from the town, as local politicians had feared, is not envisaged. Nick Terdre reports.

“The current campus model is not sustainable,” a university spokesman told HOT. “It will be phased out in favour of a new model that will continue to deliver higher and further education in Hastings in collaboration with Sussex Coast College Hastings with the longer term objective of establishing a University of Hastings.” The option of closing the campus had been considered but discarded.

The new model should be decided in a matter of months – detailed work is already under way – and will probably take a couple of years to phase in. It “will be smaller and more focused than the current one to ensure that it is sustainable for the long term,” the spokesman said. “Higher education courses will be developed and delivered in partnership with Sussex Coast College Hastings.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo university courses will continue to be offered in Hastings, though some current ones may be moved to other campuses. Some may continue to be given in the university’s premises in Priory Square and Havelock Road – no decision has been made about these buildings, though there are currently no plans to sell them. In the meantime all current students will be allowed to complete their courses, the majority in Hastings, though some may have to do so elsewhere. But no courses will be moved without consultation with staff and students, the spokesman said.

The statements put out by local politicians suggest they were unaware of some of the details given above. “A decision to close the Hastings Campus would be a backwards step for our town’s regeneration, especially since we have invested large sums of tax payers’ money into creating the campus in the first place,” said MP Amber Rudd. “Without delay, the University needs to communicate the full details of what this ‘enhanced relationship’ with Sussex Coast College means for our town and its students. If they listen to us, they will realise that the University’s campus in Hastings needs to remain a central part of our town.”

Meanwhile Hastings Borough Council leader, Peter Chowney, said: “If Brighton University are indeed closing their Hastings centre, it’s a devastating blow to the town’s regeneration, especially considering the amount of public money that went into creating a university centre here…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“But this must not be the end of a university in Hastings. We will be looking to Brighton University to co-operate with us and Sussex Coast College, not just to retain some higher education in Hastings, but to create a genuine University of Hastings. Hastings has become a university town. It must remain a university town. I’m determined to work with Sussex Coast College, Brighton University, local businesses, our MP, other universities, and anyone else who wants to contribute, to help us achieve that.”

On behalf of Hastings & Rye Labour Party, chair Paul Barnett and vice-chair, Sarah Owen said: “The University’s withdrawal is incredibly disappointing news… We would ask that the University of Brighton give a clearer indication of their plans, reconsider their decision to close the campus over two years and give a genuine reassurance to all students and staff by staying in Hastings.”

On the question of public funds – £12 million was allocated to set up the Hastings campus – the spokesman said, “We have discharged our responsibilities in regard to this funding. The University bought all of its current buildings with its own money.”

Criticism by Ms Rudd of the university – “The future of Brighton’s Hastings campus should not even be being debated,” she was reported as saying when the review was announced – has apparently caused surprise in its management circles given that she fully supported the introduction of the government’s higher education policies, which form the background to the decision to hold the review.

At the heart of the crisis is a coming lack of potential students to make the current campus set-up viable – a sharp fall is predicted in the number of 16-17 year olds in the town and the surrounding areas, in line with a similar trend across the country.


See also Labour adds its voice to campaign to save Hastings’ university campus from closure

Posted 18:03 Thursday, Mar 10, 2016 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT
  1. Dr Hilda Kean

    Is this the same Sussex Coast College that has been in dispute with staff for failure to pay the appropriate levels for further education lecturers? No wonder the University of Brighton is seeking to divest its responsibilities onto this institution! A university education needs well equipped libraries, well qualified (and well paid) staff who not only are experienced educators but also researchers. They are people who publish in their area of expertise. I cannot but help think that maintaining a university based on research, scholarship and high student achievement including intellectual achievement is something that the Brighton v-c thinks is not needed for Hastings people and that a cheap, low level, solely vocationally-based offer is deemed “good enough” for local people. I remain to be convinced that the so-called projected University of Hastings will be an institution worthy of such a title.

    Comment by Dr Hilda Kean — Wednesday, Mar 16, 2016 @ 21:04

  2. Monkey Magic

    Interesting comments from our MP – what will she say if the hugely expensive link road(s) fail to produce the promised £1bn worth of economic growth or the 2000 homes or the 3000 jobs? She fully supported Sea Change in this venture….And BTW – If the university paid for their premises and the fitting out etc…where did the £12m go?

    Comment by Monkey Magic — Friday, Mar 11, 2016 @ 11:49

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