‘Massive blow’ to Eastbourne as University of Brighton confirms it will leave town

University bosses have confirmed they will be leaving Eastbourne by 2024.

University of Brighton, Hillbrow, School of Sport and Service Management. SUS-160712-155246001

University bosses have confirmed they will be leaving Eastbourne by 2024.

After a consultation, which ended on December 10, the University of Brighton has today (Thursday, January 27) announced that its plans have been formally approved by its board of governors.

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Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, said, “As part of the plans, significant investment will take place over the next two years at the University’s Moulsecoomb and Falmer campuses. At Falmer, the repurposing of the site previously occupied by Virgin Active will enable the School of Sport and Health Sciences – currently split across Falmer and Eastbourne campuses – to come together on an expanded Falmer campus.

University of Brighton Darley Road Campus (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210311-155729008

“This means that the University’s Eastbourne campus including the Leaf Hospital will close by the start of the 2024-25 academic year.”

Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said the confirmation was a ‘massive blow to the town’.

“I am extremely disappointed that the University of Brighton is going ahead with the closure of its Eastbourne campus, having made strong objections to this plan during the consultation process.

“This means all three of its sites – Hillbrow, which includes the sports centre, Darley Road and Leaf Hospital – will shut by the start of the 2024/2025 academic year.

University of Brighton Leaf Hospital (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210311-155752008

“The university will have no physical presence in Eastbourne beyond this time and that represents a massive blow to the town.

“Not only has the Eastbourne campus attracted students here, bringing economic benefits such as the money they spend locally and employment for staff, losing these sites will result in a loss of sports and health facilities for residents.

“Following this decision by the University of Brighton, we will be proactively engaging with other universities to encourage them to establish a campus in Eastbourne.

“There are so many benefits for a university to locate in our wonderful seaside town and we are very keen to welcome a new third-level education organisation here, with all the accompanying advantages that brings for residents and businesses.”

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said she was ‘disappointed but not surprised’ by the news.

“However, I do firmly believe there is an opportunity for our town going forward despite this loss.

“The first challenge is to mobilise with local stakeholders to safeguard important community assets like the university’s gym and pool to ensure their continued use.

“Secondly, I will be working with East Sussex College around developing future learning opportunities. I am confident the town can remain a place with good options for top-quality education.

“I hope to meet with the university’s vice chancellor as soon as possible to better understand the situation and how we can move forward at their sites, safeguard those community assets we need and then work locally to develop other learning options.”

Professor Humphris added, “Partners have been reassured that the university remains firmly committed to its role supporting education, outreach, health and social care, and innovation, skills and business growth across East Sussex and beyond.

“This includes the continuation of close working relationships with partner organisations such as Business East Sussex, Chambers of Commerce, the NHS and local authorities.

The University will continue to support regional policy and infrastructure programmes, develop and deliver programmes to support skills, and work with individual businesses to support innovation via successful programmes such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and the Green Growth Platform.

“The University also remains committed to its extensive outreach programme which has involved more than 1,700 school and college students in Eastbourne over the last three academic years as well as sponsorship of the University of Brighton Academies Trust schools which includes several schools in East Sussex.

“Our Eastbourne campus is an important part of the University’s history and heritage. While we may not continue to have a physical presence in Eastbourne in the future, the University of Brighton remains firmly committed to its role supporting people and businesses across East Sussex and beyond.

“We have a strong track record of working in partnership in our region and that will only grow stronger as we move forward with our plans.”