Students leave Hastings over poor social life

27/4/11- The UCH, Hastings
27/4/11- The UCH, Hastings

STUDENTS are leaving Hastings in their droves, because the town’s social scene isn’t up to scratch.

That’s the verdict of head of the University of Brighton in Hastings, who said local businesses are missing out on the student pound because of the lack of attractions and amenities on offer.

This year, the intake of students at the Havelock Road campus was 700, which is the highest number to date.

With the opening of a second University of Brighton building in Priory Square in 2012, the student numbers will rise to 1,000.

But the vast majority of students chose to live outside of the town and commute to Hastings to study.

Margaret Wallis, director of the Hastings campus, said that from the students’ perspective Hastings is lagging behind nearby Eastbourne in terms of restaurants, clubs and sporting facilities, with many choosing to move out of Hastings for their second and third years.

She said: “It’s a shame if the students decide that they don’t want to live here.

“We have more than 200 students in halls of residence, but in fact we should have more than that, because of second and third year students.

“It is important for the town that we get it right.”

The narrow range of evening entertainment is of particular concern, with regard to encouraging young people to stay in the town.

Rob Woods, town centre manager, said: “We are already talking to businesses and looking at ways of getting students involved in the town.”

“We need a range of facilities in Hastings, that will enhance the evening economy.”

He added that in recent years the focus had been on provision for families, though with the influx of students, it is now necessary to look at providing amenities for a wide range of people.

An Evening Economy Partnership is to be formed by the town centre management to discuss exactly what needs to be done.

Regarding provision of amenities, leader of Hastings Borough Council, Jeremy Birch said: “It is important not just for students but for our young people in general.”