Creative writing, archaeology, history and other short courses will no longer be available from July 2012 onwards at the Centre for Community Engagement (CCE) at the University of Sussex.
The university has proposed the closure of these courses after losing public funding for non-degree courses.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing said: “We regret that this proposal would end evening classes and day schools which have been enjoyed by local people over the years.”
The Government’s plans to withdraw funding from courses that don’t lead to a degree means that the university will not be able to subsidise them any longer.
The Director of Finance at the university, Allan Spencer said that in order to keep these short courses running there would need to be a steep increase on fees.
Short courses bring the university around £300,000 a year, but this is not enough to cover the £650,000 that it costs the university to run them.
The proposal doesn’t put at risk the International Summer School (ISS), or the teaching of sign language or Deaf Studies.
Sussex University and College Union (UCU) said: “The management’s proposal will deprive local adult students, especially older and second chance learners.”
The decision to close short courses puts at risk the employment of 12 members of academic staff and three professional services and 127 associate tutors.
According to the UCU the profits from the ‘very successful’ ISS could be used to help maintain CCE courses and staff.
The President of the University of Sussex’s Students’ Union (SU) David Cichon said: “The Centre for Community Engagement at Sussex is crucial in facilitating the positive impact of the University on the local community.”
The university is currently leading a consultation with unions and staff on the implications of the potential losses of jobs.
The SU hopes that the outcome of the on-going consultation will not affect the engagement with the community and that it will enhance the centre’s possibilities in regards to widening participation in higher education.
The Centre had already faced changes when the Government withdrew funding for Equivalent and Lower Qualifications (ELQs).
The changes in recent years have seen disappear courses for those already holding a higher degree.
The university stopped enrolling new students in degree –level programmes in 2008-09 and the last part time cohort will end in 2012/13.
Pat Thomas, undergraduate student in Archaeology and Landscape said: “It is with considerable sadness that I have watched the gradual erosion of part-time educational opportunities for local people at the University of Sussex.”
Miss Thomas added that Government policies were blamed when the CCE’s credit bearing and degree courses were closed in 2008/09, but many believed the university’s commitment to its local community would be retained.
The CCE has a long and successful history at Sussex having produced novelists, archaeologists, supported volunteering in the community and in the promotion of sign language.
The University of Sussex Archaeology Society was created 12 years ago and it was a product of the CCE.
Dudley Moore, Chairman of the Society and former student at the CCE said: “There is nothing closer to the local community than CCE.”
He explained that the local community should not be the one affected by the difficult economic climate.
“The community has supported the university for many years and adult education is vitally important to any community and should continue at Sussex.”
A petition against the university’s proposal has been set up online and can be signed on: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/community-engagement-at-sussex/.