Students’ ‘anger and frustration’

Protest outside Brighton University in Hastings. SUS-160903-134214001
Protest outside Brighton University in Hastings. SUS-160903-134214001

Student Fiona Mcgeever was at today’s protest at the University of Brighton.

She feels passionately about the proposals for the Hastings campus and wrote this account of the meeting with vice chancellor Debra Humphries.

Protest outside Brighton University in Hastings. SUS-160903-134235001

Protest outside Brighton University in Hastings. SUS-160903-134235001

Students, staff and members of the community were united in anger as they protested outside university buildings today.

The tension was palpable as they awaited answers from Debra Humphries vice chancellor of Brighton University.

Unfortunately, many questions were asked but little or no answers were given.

The transparency that Proff Humphries vowed to bring to her role has failed to prevail once again.

“We are not walking away from Hastings, we are changing the model...we want to work with Sussex Coast College to build a vibrant university experience, merging higher education with further education.”

This statement caused outrage amongst students, with one saying ‘if you think amalgamating with Sussex Coast College will work then you are very much mistaken, we are paying £9,000 a year for degrees in a University campus, which we currently have, your plan will never work’.

When asked if courses will be moved the answer was again vague, ‘if courses move, we don’t know which courses yet, we will look at support packages’, ‘we will look program by program, student by student to get the best possible outcome’.

What these measures will include nobody knows.

Today’s meeting has not succeeded in lifting any of the uncertainty it has only increased the anger and frustration that students and staff are experiencing.

Rachael Kamara, a former student and current consultant in the Hastings Student Union, made an impassioned speech addressing the work that has gone into the university.

“For the past seven years I have not been heard.

“I was a student then the first entertainment officer, I have worked to put on events for students, build relationships with local business and try to make this a positive university experience for students and just as we are getting there you take it all away from us.”

A reverberating applause highlighted the unity and understanding between the students. Students who have not been consulted once throughout this entire review.

We understand that the board of governors were asked to make further investment, they in turn requested an independent review.

No students or staff members were asked at any point how they felt about the possible decisions.

Making the point that the university is clearly a business and only cares about profits one student asked why ‘provisions weren’t made 13 years ago to secure the future of the Hastings campus, why didn’t the university invest in Hastings as they have in the other campuses and why haven’t the university put pressure on Southern Rail to extend the unizone to Hastings?’.

She concluded by saying: “The students have not failed here, the university as a self-proclaimed business has failed and in doing so you have seriously disrespected and let down us, the students, staff and the community.”

The vice chancellor responded by saying ‘decisions were made in the past that could have been better’.

For students facing two years of uncertainty these answers shed very little light on what is to be expected.

For many the decision to drop out looks inevitable.

Many mature and local students raised the point that they would never have been able to go to university if it wasn’t for the Hastings campus.

Brighton is close but it is still a commute and expensive.

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