The closure of Hastings’ university campus with the college taking on more higher education courses was confirmed on Friday (December 16).
University of Brighton’s campus will shut in the summer of 2019 giving the majority of current students time to complete their courses.
While Sussex Coast College Hastings will host the new ‘university centre’, which will open in September with six initial undergraduate courses validated by UoB.
Brighton Students’ Union said it is ‘very disappointed’ by the UoB board’s decision but will work closely to support students and ensure their experience is protected.
The decisions come after a year-long review of the current campus which was deemed unsustainable by the university’s management, much to the dismay of many in the town.
UoB’s board of governors chairman John Harley said: “The decision to close the university’s Hastings campus has not been taken lightly.
“We fully understand the importance of the local provision of higher education to the ongoing development of Hastings and we are keen to see the university continuing to support its delivery.
“That is why the board of governors wanted to see the proposal for the new ‘university centre’ being tested and consulted on before taking a final decision on the future of the Hastings campus.”
The plans were revealed last month, following a three-month consultation, showing no current university staff or courses would stay in Hastings – courses would either move to another UoB campus or close.
SCCH will be solely responsible for the ‘university centre’ which plans to initially offer six BA (Hons) courses, with an additional 20 courses being considered for validation by the UoB and Pearson.
The college vows to work ‘closely’ with the community to ensure it provides the right mix of provision to support economic development and give people access to degree-level courses.
“The new ‘university centre’ offers an exciting new vision for the continued delivery of high-quality higher education in the Hastings and Rother area,” Corporation of SCCH chairman Tony Campbell said.
“We desperately wanted to keep a higher education offering in the town and I am delighted that the new ‘university centre’ will enable us to do so.
“We have successfully run degree courses at SCCH for over 25 years, so we will use all of our experience and knowledge to make the new model sustainable and successful.
“The ‘university centre’ will open in September, 2017, with its own dedicated learning and social space and an initial mix of courses that we will continue to develop and grow over the coming years.
“Students will benefit from being able to study locally, while getting expert tuition and increased contact time with our fully-qualified teaching staff.”
The students’ union has always opposed the plans to close the campus with many protests and lobbying attempts made to try and change the management’s mind.
Its president, Hayley Wood, voted against the closure at Friday’s board meeting but was outnumbered.
“We will now be working with the university to ensure that the student experience is protected for all students studying in Hastings until the campus closes,” a students’ union statement said.
“We will continue to support course reps and the Hastings Campus Action Team who will be key in ensuring that students are receiving the educational and social learning experience they have been promised when they joined the university.”
The university campus was set up based on the assumption it would attract 1,500-2,000 students, but it currently has 650 students.
With supply of 16 to 17-year-olds predicted to decline, the board decided it could not keep running the campus at a financial deficit.
“As a board we have to take account of all of the evidence in coming to a decision balancing all of the available facts,” Mr Harley said.
“The evidence clearly shows that the current Hastings campus is not sustainable and that the new ‘university centre’ is the best and most appropriate way of the University continuing to support higher education courses in the town.
“We have concluded that the right decision is to support the university management’s proposal to close the Hastings campus and for the university to continue to offer its support and expertise to SCCH as they take forward the development of the new ‘university centre’.”
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