Shocked at sudden decision to pull university out of Eastbourne

From: Robert Cowan, St Vincent’s Place, Eastbourne

Like many other local people I am sure, I was shocked to learn of Brighton University’s sudden decision, despite firm commitments previously made, to withdraw from its three campus sites in Eastbourne by the academic year 2024/25 at the latest in order to consolidate its resources at its Falmer location.

This unwelcome news, which came like a bolt out of the blue, will bring an end to the university’s presence in the town for more than 40 years in one guise or another as it transfers almost 2,000 students back to the Brighton area. This will inevitably have serious implications for the local economy as well as for the many employees of the university in Eastbourne whose job security is now severely threatened.

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I also have concerns about the many buildings at Hillbrow, Darley Road, and Leaf Hospital to be vacated over the next years, and hope that much thought, planning and consultation will go into their future use and development. I hope too that Eastbourne Borough Council will use imagination in this regard and not just opt to create yet more flats in the town which is already bursting at the seams with them.

University of Brighton Darley Road Campus (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210311-155716008

Traditionally, Eastbourne has been characterised over the years, rightly or wrongly, as a town for the elderly and retirees, and has teasingly been nicknamed ‘God’s Waiting Room’. I have always countered such unenlightened views by pointing out that a significant element of the population here is made up of university students as well, of course, as large numbers of students at schools and colleges.

With Brighton University’s shock decision to withdraw from the town, I fear that in addition to the problems outlined above, Eastbourne’s demographic will no longer reflect the desirable wide spread of age groups which currently exist to our mutual benefit.