March 11, 2016

Hastings statement from UNISON

Dear UNISON Member

We know that many of you breathed a sigh of relief when you read the VC’s announcement about the future of the Hastings Campus after the Board of Governors’ meeting on Tuesday, thinking that Hastings was now saved.

The reality is very different.  As Mark Abel pointed out in his email earlier in the week,  the Deputy Vice-Chancellor made it clear in a meeting with Mark and me immediately after the BoG meeting,  that the Hastings campus in its current form will close in 2 years.  There are already plans to move some courses to Eastbourne in the new academic year; some will go to South Coast FE college (which has many problems of its own), some will run, but only for 2 years, the third years will be transferred to other campuses, and some courses will close.

Trade Union reps and staff at the meeting held for Hastings staff on Wednesday were astounded by the spin the VC put on the decisions that have been taken, and at the scale of misinformation, patronising statements,  lack of honesty and clarity together with the refusal to give straight answers to questions from staff about their future, and the future of Hastings students.  There will be redundancies, that point was made clearly, and support staff in academic services, student services, cleaning, catering , security, libraries and technical staff are the most likely to be facing redundancy.

We have also discovered that the BoG were not given the report by BDO (a firm of accountants who undertook the review) but only a presentation by a BDO staff member.  So there was no opportunity for them to question the basis on which the recommendations had been made.   It is clear that finances were the only consideration.  No account has been taken of our role in the community and the impact that closure will have, not only on staff and current students, but on the future of Hastings itself. Our commitment to the cultural regeneration of Hastings, backed by £12 million pounds of public money given to the university, has been abandoned.

The SU are committed to fight the closure and the students are united in their disgust at their betrayal by the university.  The SU President, Hayley Wood has  been outspoken in her condemnation of the decision.

We are organising a fight-back and campaign to save the Hastings Campus together with UCU, SU and Hastings councillors. I will be attending a joint meeting on Monday 14th, where we will consider how to take further effective action.   We want all our members to join us in supporting staff at Hastings.  Please be under no illusion, if Hastings goes, this will give management the green light to wield the axe, and any of us could be next to lose our jobs.  We have to resist this with all our strength.

The branch will be in regular contact with all members and we will be holding meetings so please keep an eye out for our emails.

Carole Chick and the UNISON Branch Committee