STUDENTS are no longer fleeing the town in favour of Eastbourne, according to the findings of a review considering whether Hastings is making the most of being a university town.
There is still a significant shortage of work placements and employment opportunities for students and graduates, the borough council’s scrutiny review team found.
Councillor Mike Howard, chairman of the review team, speaking at the cabinet meeting on Monday (July 8)said: “The key points are that the University of Brighton sees its work with local partners as crucial, however it sees the majority of local businesses as areal challenge.”
“Students raised other issues including the need for a dedicated venue to meet and study, and improved WiFi.
“On the plus side they dispelled the worry that many were migrating to Eastbourne.
“Students assured us that what was actually happening was that a lot of them were making the decision to stay in Hastings.
“They say it is a safer place to study in and live.
“A significant number of students were happy to recommend other students to come here.”
The scrutiny review began in December 2012 and concluded in April this year.
It put forward several recommendations which were agreed by the cabinet, including continuing to develop the multi-agency partnership working to resolve issues affecting the appeal of Hastings to students, ensuring public transport and other key services provide value for money, and taking further steps to engage with businesses and business support organisations, with a view to forging links with the university.
Councillor Peter Chowney made the point that there were already examples of multi-agency work in place, such as the TECH 66 Vacuum Technology Conference Exhibition, taking place in September, which aims to raise awareness of high technology companies based in the area.
The event is sponsored by several local authorities in East Sussex, along with Sussex Coast College, Sea Change Sussex, and Sussex Exchange.
Councillor John Hodges added: “The students’ union needs to be a lot stronger, together with sorting out the other major gripe - halls of residence.”