On Monday 15 February, student representatives met with university management to discuss the “restructuring proposals” that management has planned for the university’s future, made last November.
The USSU stated on the agenda: “Students do not feel adequately consulted and engaged in this process.”
Three members of the Vice-Chancellors Executive Group (VCEG) attended the meeting on 15 February: Jenni Grundy, Head of Student Support and Experience; Chris Marlin, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of International Students; and Academic Registrar Owen Richards.
Only about 30 student reps out of a possible 200 were in attendance, along with USSU President Tom Wills and USSU Education Officer Josh Jones.
Discussing the proposals for a ‘Student Life Centre’ as a replacement for current welfare and support services, student reps quoted that drop-out rates have halved in the past five years, and Sussex Welfare and Support is rated high in national tables.
Grundy responded by saying: “I need to be clear that we’re moving towards a different style of service for Sussex, actually we’re not looking to create a comparable level to what we’ve got; we’re trying to work with different constraints and trying to move forward in a different way.”
Richards said these proposals had been produced in “quite a short period of five or six weeks,” using “their judgement and expertise as managers.”
When asked about whether the management had considered student support needs specific to Sussex students, Richards said: “If there is a difference in nuance about students at Sussex, it would be about lifestyle… the University has got to ask itself quite hard questions about what it can afford in relation to responding to those different nuances.”
After an hour and a half discussion, it was agreed further meetings needed to be held, and the meeting would be continued at a later date.