University of Brighton Hastings review – students’ stories

Dan Pothecary-Smith shared his experiences of his time at the University of Brighton's Hastings campus
Dan Pothecary-Smith shared his experiences of his time at the University of Brighton's Hastings campus

Students have been sharing stories of their time at the University of Brighton’s Hastings campus as its future is reviewed by education bosses.

Last week it was announced the university was considering ‘all options’ for the campus after failing to enrol enough students.

In a statement to the Observer, the university also said student satisfaction was lower at the Hastings campus than at others in Eastbourne and Brighton.

However, students were quick to defend the ‘small community feel’ of the campus, with many saying they would never have gone to university if it didn’t have a presence in 1066 country.

Kate Selby described the review as ‘very disappointing news’.

“I gained a degree in applied social sciences at the university and if it was not for their intense and individual support I would never be where I am now,” she told the Observer.

“Because of that degree I was able to further my education and gain a MSc in social work and now work as a social worker in Hastings in a child protection team.”

Kate left college with no qualifications.

When she found out she was pregnant at 17 she ‘panicked’ and went to see a careers advisor.

“She told me I would never be a social worker and would not be able to get into university,” said Kate.

“That same day I went to Hastings campus university and spoke to a senior lecturer who advised me to take an access course.

“Without her patience and taking her time out to advise me I would never be where I am today.”

Having completed her access course, Kate returned to the campus and was accepted onto the degree.

“As a young carer and a single mum I did find university a challenge at first but because of the support and guidance they provided me I was able to continue with my studies.

“Even if that meant bringing my daughter into lectures with me when I couldn’t find child care.

“The university did not only help me with my studies but also supported me with my housing benefit claims and assisting me when in financial crisis, alongside offering support when things at home did become hard.

“I returned to Falmer campus to complete my MSc and although the essence of the University of Brighton brand was the same the teaching and personalisation that Hastings had was lacking.

“It showed me just how unique Hastings campus was and made me appreciate how lucky I was to have studied there.

“The people I met on my course were also inspirational and I learned so much from them.

“They ranged in age and ability and backgrounds and this would not have been possible if it was not for the application process being of a more individual and trusting nature than other universities.

“It has given those who would otherwise never get through the application process a chance to prove and apply themselves and that would not have been made possible without the vision that the team who work at the university have.”

Dan Pothecary-Smith graduated in 2014 and said he chose the campus because if was one of the few universities offering a joint honours course which matched his needs.

“I chose Hastings because it offered the joint honours programme and was quieter than Brighton,” he said.

“I wanted a university experience with a community feel.

“As Hastings was a growing campus when I joined, students were really at the forefront of decision making and student voice is heard and taken into consideration when consulting on different options.

“The Students’ Union was a really driving force for student experience and ensuring everyone had the best experience possible.

“The teaching was outstanding, tutors were readily available to support and guide with issues – the student facilities were getting better and better each year with outstanding facilities for those on TV production courses.”

Dan said Hastings was not what he initially expected but during his time at the university he found the town valued its student community and the university’s presence.

“Initially, moving to Hastings was quite a shock,” he said.

“It was not what I expected at all from a university town, however, over the three years I was there, the town became welcoming and really valued the students wants and needs in helping towards the redevelopment.”

When asked what he thought could be done to attract more students to the campus, he said: “The night time-economy is vital for attracting students and in Hastings this still feels a bit limited.”

Since graduating, Dan has gone on to work in London for EF Education First – a company he was first introduced to while studying at the university.

He said his course taught his ‘invaluable skills’ needed for work.

“The joint honours programme I was on, involved a practical work experience module that utilised your degree and personable skills,” he added.

However, not all students were as positive about their time at Hastings, with a lack of night-life and the ‘university experience’ a common theme.

Sophie Moss said she and her boyfriend were living in Hastings last year while he attended the Hastings campus for his first year of university.

She said he originally believed he would be based at Moulsecoomb, they found the town ‘dull’, there were issues with anti-social behaviour and the accommodation flooding.

“The campus itself was lacking things such as a unibar and study room and there were issues with unlocking doors using the unicards,” she said.

“Bars and nightclubs in town were expensive and for university events we were told there would be hundreds of students attending which was a complete lie.”

She said at the end of the year only two students stayed on to continue her boyfriend’s course.

University of Brighton reviews future of Hastings campus

University of Brighton Hastings review – reaction

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