The future of the University of Brighton in Hastings is under review as it struggles to recruit enough students to ‘make the original vision for the campus viable’.
It was revealed today (Tuesday, January 26) that a review of ‘a range of options’ is underway with a decision expected in the next few months.
When approached by the Observer for a comment, a university spokesman said: “The University of Brighton is a successful and popular university.
“But like all other universities we operate in an increasingly challenging environment.
“Since the original decision was taken to become a lead partner in the regeneration of Hastings, the broader economic, political and funding context have radically changed.
“The increasingly competitive environment to recruit students, who themselves have rising expectations of their university experience, means that all investment decisions need to strike a balance between value for money, sustainability and long-term impact on student experience.
“We are proud of what has been achieved in Hastings and remain committed to improving access to higher education for students from all backgrounds.
“But despite considerable investment we have struggled to recruit the numbers of students needed to make the original vision for the campus viable in the longer term.
“We have also been concerned that students are less satisfied with their overall experience at Hastings compared to our other campuses.
“There are many factors that play into both of these, not all of which relate solely to the quality or quantity of the teaching we provide.
“Against this backdrop we are looking at a range of options for the future of higher education in Hastings.
“We will be discussing these with partners and stakeholders with a view to reaching a decision in the next few months.”
It is not yet clear what any potential outcomes of the review could be, or what the impact would be on students and staff.
A spokesman for the local strategic partnership it would make a ‘strong case’ for the university’s future investment in Hastings.
“The Hastings & St Leonards Local Strategic Partnership ‘LSP’ has welcomed the opportunity to input into the internal review being carried out by the University of Brighton into its future in Hastings,” he said.
“The university’s new vice chancellor, Debra Humphris, attended a meeting of the LSP on Monday (January 25) where she explained that the university was carrying out an internal review of its operation in Hastings.
“The university had not attracted the number of students it had hoped for into its Hastings campus, and needed to look at all options – nothing was being ruled in or out at this stage.
“The University of Brighton’s involvement in the Hastings Academies Trust is not part of the review.
“A firm of higher education specialists have been engaged to undertake the work for the university, and they are expected to prepare a report for consideration by the university board by March.
“The Hastings & St Leonards LSP welcomes the opportunity to feed into Hastings Borough Council’s response to the university’s internal review, making a strong case for the university’s further investment in Hastings.”
MP for Hastings and Rye Amber Rudd expressed her ‘absolute support’ for the university staying in Hastings.
“The future of the University of Brighton’s Hastings campus should not even be being debated,” she said.
“Students are a great addition to Hastings and the town has become a great place to live and study.
“I have asked for a meeting with the vice chancellor to express my absolute support for the continued presence of the University in Hastings.”
The past few years have seen investment in university buildings in the town.
On the University of Brighton website it says: “Our fast-growing and friendly Hastings campus is right in the centre of town and features a cafe, a student lounge, exercise and recreation facilities, and the Hastings Students’ Union.
“We have two halls of residence: Havelock Road is close to the university campus and town centre, and Robert Tressell – a refurbished Victorian hotel – is five minutes’ walk from St Leonard’s railway station.”
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