A protest was held outside the university buildings against the apparent closure of the Hastings campus in the next two years today (Wednesday, March 9).
Students, councillors and staff picketed outside the Havelock Road building to show the University of Brighton how much the town needs it to stay.
Laura Wallis, a second-year social sciences student said she was told by the university, after finding out about the review in January from the Observer, it would not happen again but it has.
“It’s taking the aspirations and dreams away from Hastings town, it’s taking so much more than a university,” she said.
“This university means a lot to so many people – it’s almost become the soul of Hastings – and to take that away is going to be a fatal mistake.
“Whatever idea they come out with of putting it to the college, I think we should boycott them. If they’re going to boycott us then we should boycott them.”
Vice-chancellor Debra Humphris and other members of the management walked past the protest but did not acknowledge it.
Laura said the decision is an abomination and must be stopped.
“What’s got me is that the university, for a lot of people, for a lot of single parents, this is their only option to get higher education,” she said.
“We can’t travel to Brighton, we just can’t do it. Two and a half hours travelling a day.
“At least half of the students here are single parents and that’s a lifeline that’s been given to Hastings and it’s just being taken away.
“I’m in my second year now and have got two years to go, if I’m made to travel to Brighton, I’m not going to be able to finish my course.
“I signed up to my degree to be studying in Hastings, nowhere else, I expected to get my degree through Hastings, I can only get my degree through Hastings and she’s [Prof Humphris] robbing me.
“This decision is robbing me and my family and the aspirations that I had.
“This town is one of the most deprived towns in the country and to do this is an abomination, it’s disgusting.”
Various members of Hastings Borough Council joined the students such as deputy mayor Judy Rogers, Cllr Richard Street, Cllr Dawn Poole and others.
Cllr Andrew Batsford said all the management care about is money and they have betrayed the town.
“People just feel completely betrayed by it all as the amount of investment, not just money, but time that people have put in for meetings, setting up meetings with our academies, with other businesses, with council officers, all putting their time and effort in to do this partnership working,” he said.
“But they do one review, done by an accountant, and that’s all you need to know.
“It’s all about money, it’s not about education, it’s not about an ethos of looking after Hastings, they’re just completely abandoning the idea of regenerating Hastings.
“Hastings needs a solid university base but a non-traditional one that allows people to work.
“Wages are low in Hastings so they need an opportunity to come to university and work and look after their children and inspire.
“My son’s at university now because he saw me go to university, the first one in my entire family.”
Another angry student was graduate Tracey Hutton, who studied applied social sciences and is now doing a masters.
“To say to just go to Brighton is a joke anyway because it’s not just about time constraints being parents, financially you can’t do it,” she said.
“But again Hastings was not included in the Unizone so students travelling from Hastings to Falmer have to pay a lot more than students coming from Eastbourne.
“They tried to campaign to get the Unizone extended and that didn’t happen so Hastings is always at a disadvantage.”
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