Unions have branded a decision to close the university campus in Hastings as ‘educational vandalism’.
Carole Chick, from Unison, said students and unions had received nothing but ‘smoke and mirrors, spin and obfuscation’ from the University of Brighton’s management when questioned on why it reached the controversial decision.
She made the comments at a public meeting yesterday (Wednesday, May 4), made up of campaigners fighting against the planned closure.
Carole said: “Having a campus here is an essential part of the regeneration of Hastings.
“The true value of higher education provision in Hastings can’t be shown on a balance sheet.
“We can’t let them get away with this act of educational vandalism.”
Ré Poko, from the University of Brighton Student Union, said the decision to close the campus left students ‘devastated’.
He added: “My life and education has been enriched by being in Hastings.
“To rip this provision out of the town is absolutely disgusting.
“It’s so frustrating to see all of the students’ hard work being thrown away.”
Since the decision was announced in March, more than 7,700 people have signed a petition in protest.
At last night’s meeting, Mark Abel, from the University and College Union, said: “I must congratulate students for their show of resilience.
“They have really made this an issue in Hastings and in Sussex as a whole.”
He said university management were viewing it as a business and added: “For us a university belongs to the people who work there and the community that surrounds it.”
Work has begun on the development of a new University Centre following the decision to replace the Hastings campus but Mark said this would represent a ‘massive step back’ for higher education in the town.
Campaigners fighting the planned closure of the university campus in Hastings are also holding another demonstration next week.
The protest will take place on Saturday, May 14, from noon where people will assemble in Priory Square for a march and rally.
A similar demonstration took place in March.
At yesterday’s meeting, Carole said: “We need to get the message across to every single household in Hastings and we want to see thousands on the streets on May 14.”
Mark Curry, from the University of Brighton Student Union, said: “The university made a promise it would developp higher education in Hastings.
“What it is doing now is a crime.
“It’s also been a PR disaster for the university.
“Never, ever argue with a town like Hastings. We are fighters and we will always win.”
A spokesman for the University of Brighton said: “We have repeatedly made it clear the university remains fully committed to Hastings.
“The new University Centre, that will replace our current Hastings campus over the next few years, will continue to provide the people of Hastings with local access to higher education opportunities that can help to transform their lives and continue to support the transformation of the town.
“The development of the new centre is a chance to create something that is sustainable and really works for Hastings and the surrounding area.
“We are fully committed to working with our partners at Sussex Coast College Hastings and members of the Hastings and Rother Task Force to make this happen.
“We will continue to support the education of almost 45 percent of school children who study at the seven primary and two secondary academy schools we sponsor in the Hastings area. And we will continue to engage with more than 3,000 young people every year to encourage them to consider higher education as an option, including at the new University Centre.”
To sign the online petition against the closure log onto www.change.org/p/save-hastings-campus.
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