The University of Brighton has said any changes made as a result of its review into the Hastings campus would be made ‘long term’ with staff and students ‘fully involved’ in the process.
As reported by the Observer last month the university is reviewing the future of the Hastings campus.
Following a request for more information from the Observer, the university issued an updated statement.
“The University of Brighton has been committed to the social and economic regeneration of Hastings for over a decade – and continues to be so,” said the statement, issued on behalf of the university by interim communications manager Ken Young.
“This is not just through our higher education provision, but also through our sponsorship of nine academy schools in the town and outreach work in local schools and colleges which engaged over 3,000 local young people last year.
“Since 2009, we have been the only higher education provider with a presence in the town following the earlier withdrawal of the four other partners originally involved.
“Whilst facing competing priorities across the university as a whole we have invested £14m in the development and running of the Hastings Campus.
“Despite this continuing investment, several changes and additions to the portfolio of courses offered and the hard work of our staff we have consistently struggled to recruit the overall numbers of students required to make the current model sustainable.”
The statement said more than a quarter of the campus’ 680 students live locally – a much higher percentage than its other campuses.
“This means that the growth required to reach a sustainable level in student numbers has to be delivered by the recruitment of students from further afield,” said the statement.
“One of the biggest drivers of student choice is location.
“This means that Hastings has to compete with Brighton and other campuses in the region and nationally with other university towns and cities – at a time when students’ expectations and choices are both increasing.”
The university added the review was not just about issues facing Hastings specifically.
“The higher education sector has become increasingly competitive both in the UK and globally and the government intends to increase this still further,” it continued.
“The introduction of a new funding regime and fee structure for students, the lifting of controls on student numbers, pressure on recruitment of international students and increasing research concentration present profound challenges to which all universities are having to adapt.
“Our review, which was commissioned by our board of governors as part of a wider consideration of the university’s long term strategy before our new vice chancellor arrived, is reflecting on all of these issues with the aim of identifying how best to continue to deliver higher education in Hastings on a sustainable basis.
“The implementation of any changes will be a long-term undertaking and our partners, staff and students will be fully involved in the process.”
The Observer understands the findings of the review will be presented to the board in March.
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