Bosses at the university campus in Hastings have been accused of making up their minds already as the consultation on its future ended on Sunday (October 30).
The University of Brighton’s campus is set to close and merge with Sussex Coast College Hastings (SCCH) to create a ‘university centre’ to much outrage from the town.
The consultation was launched to figure out what form it should take but sociology lecturer James Ormrod believes management has already decided many crucial aspects of it, which the university denies.
“Staff at the university feel betrayed by the manner in which university management have again made decisions about the future of the Hastings campus without consulting staff or local people affected,” he said.
“Whilst publicising a very limited consultation exercise that now appears to be no more than a public relations exercise designed to pacify those who oppose the campus closure.”
Dr Ormrod points to the university’s curriculum planning group minutes which seem to show decisions have been made on the partnership, most of the courses and contingency plans if SCCH collapses.
Plus the suggestion the university would validate more courses but without degree-level teaching, something the lecturer believes would not give the necessary quality of education.
“Crucially, under this arrangement the higher education courses in the town would not be taught by University of Brighton staff or have their learning supported by university staff,” he said.
“The University of Brighton already validate some courses at SCCH and in a number of further education colleges across the county.
“The model for the new university centre therefore represents merely an extension of the higher education courses offered at SCCH, repackaged under the banner of a ‘university centre’.”
Mr Ormrod called for all current plans to be scraped and to begin a ‘genuine’ consultation.
The university says discussions with the college has been ongoing during the consultation to meet the desired opening of September, 2017, with proposed changes suggested but not approved.
“It is important to stress that many of these proposed changes are contingent on the final decision of our Board of Governors and have not yet been approved,” a spokesman said.
The online consultation received 235 responses, plus a separate response from the council, and around 90 people, including staff, students and stakeholders, attended discussion groups.
Based on the management’s current thinking, the new centre would aim to initially have 300-400 students with a ‘range’ of courses using existing provision from the campus and SCCH.
It would then develop more full and part-time courses ‘linked to local employment needs and skills gaps’, with it all validated by the university.
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