#HandsOffHastings demonstration against campus closure

Thousands of people are expected to take part in a demonstration on Saturday (May 14) against the University of Brighton's decision to close its Hastings campus.

Demonstration outside University of Brighton in Hastings in March. SUS-160317-144439001
Demonstration outside University of Brighton in Hastings in March. SUS-160317-144439001

The march, which has been organised by members of the #HandsOffHastings campaign, starts at noon in Priory Square.

A spokesman for the #HandsOffHastings campaign, said: “The rally, intentionally planned for a weekend, will provide an opportunity for community members, who have been unable to attend previous events due to work commitments, to show support for the campaign.

“There is expected to be a strong showing from Labour councillors following the recent election and it’s also hoped members of drumming troupes will be in attendance to lend the march a ‘carnival’ feel.”

In Priory Square there will be speakers on hand. Demonstrators will then march towards Hastings Pier for more speeches before a stroll along the promenade and back into town where the rally will reconvene in Priory Square.

There a ‘mystery guest speaker’ will be making an announcement.

The Brass Monkey, in Havelock Road, is hosting an after-march party.

The campaign spokesman added: “This will be the latest in a series of events planned by #HandsOffHastings aimed at raising awareness and support for its ongoing campaign to overturn the decision by the University of Brighton to close itsHastings campus.

“There will be ongoing events throughout the year and the next one is a public consultation inviting the community to participate in The People’s Consultation, feeding in their thoughts, knowledge and experience to create an alternative vision for the future of the university in Hastings.

“This will take place on Friday, June 10, at the university’s Priory Square campus from 2pm to 6pm.”

Since the decision to close the Hastings campus was announced in March, more than 7,800 people have signed a petition in protest.

At a public meeting on May 4 at Azur at the Marina Pavilion, unions branded the move ‘educational vandalism’.

A spokesman for the University of Brighton said: “The university has been a leading partner in the regeneration of Hastings for more than a decade. It is misleading to continue to suggest we are closing the campus and walking away from the town.

“We remain fully committed to supporting the town and to providing accessible and appropriate opportunities to the local community to help transform their lives and our significant involvement in the town will continue over the coming years.

“All of the 680 students currently studying at our Hastings campus, including those applying for 2016, will continue to complete their studies at the campus over the next three-to-four years as the new University Centre that will replace it takes shape.

“From September 2017 around 400 students will begin to study University of Brighton courses at the new University Centre that we are developing in partnership with Sussex Coast College Hastings. This will continue to grow with new courses being added to the programme in 2018 and beyond.

“We will continue to support the education of almost 45 percent of local school children who study at the seven primary and two secondary academy schools we sponsor in the Hastings area.

“Our dedicated Widening Participation team will continue to engage with over 3,000 local young people from a wide range of backgrounds every year to raise aspirations and encourage them to consider higher education as an option, including at the new University Centre.”

To sign the petition, visit www.change.org/p/save-hastings-campus.

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