Monday, 30 November 2009

Government must find cash to save jobs, courses and facilities at Sussex University

Some 150 jobs are under threat at the University of Sussex in the latest attack on higher education in the city.

As many as 122 academic jobs face the axe - and another 20-odd support staff.

The decision, which is subject to a 'consultation period' until next March, has already sparked fierce opposition: more than 1,500 people have joined a Facebook group opposing the cuts, and more than 500 have signed an online petition.

There have been demonstrations on campus - and another is planned for this Thursday (Dec 3rd) morning, at 9.30. If you want to join and make your voice heard, meet at Library Square.

Of course the row has centred on whether the University should concentrate on attracting more lucrative foreign students - who pay higher fees - and the most popular (and profitable) courses, or whether its role should be that of a publicly-funded institution designed to deliver higher education to school leavers across the country. There's really good summary of the issues here, courtesy of the Times Higher Education Supplement.

Personally, I think The University of Sussex plays a vital economic and cultural role in our city. Any redundancies or cuts – or even threats of them – are the product of privatisation and the introduction of the profit motive into the provision of higher education and must be opposed.

It is for the Government to fund universities, including Sussex, properly – not just leaving the job to vice chancellors to do so by juggling the figures, short-changing students and slashing less profitable academic courses.

I urge the vice chancellor to reconsider his decision, and to appeal to the Government to put its money where its mouth is in terms of its support for universities and students.

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