We the undersigned strongly disagree with the recent proposal of Sussex University management to end the Centre for Community Engagement’s educational and community engagement activities.
The closure of this department will deprive local adult students, especially older and second chance learners, of opportunities not otherwise available to them. Sussex’s engagement with its local community will be drastically undermined, to the detriment of both ‘town’ and ‘gown’. It will also put dedicated and innovative staff at risk of redundancy at a time of rising unemployment. 12 academic and academic-related staff, 3 professional support staff, and 127 associate tutors are at risk.
Continuing education and community engagement have a long and illustrious history at Sussex. Recently, CCE has produced novelists, both amateur and professional archaeologists, supported training and volunteering in the community, engaged with efforts to promote sign language in support of deaf communities, and engaged with teachers and young people through Creative Partnerships schemes. It has also provided full-time and visiting students with access to disciplines such as archaeology, which are not otherwise covered by main stream departments.
There are financial and budgetary mechanisms by which CCE could continue to offer its short courses to the local community, and we urge the University management to thoroughly examine and publicise all the options available to them before taking this irreversible decision.
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