The University of Sussex will grow by 1,000 students a year according to University projections.

Speculations about the contents of the new Masterplan. Photo: Flora Thomson

The year 2020 is forecasted to see the University have a total number of 20,000 students, up significantly from the current 13,000 figure.

It has been suggested that the influx of new students would assist in the finance and funding of research projects and that 2020 would see the University reach capacity.

Council, the governing body of the University, has been in discussion about the University’s next “Strategic Plan” for many months in a bid to refocus the University and help it to improve and expand.

The current strategic plan sets out a projection of the “size, shape, quality and distinctiveness” of the campus and is due to expire in 2015.

However, on the question of ‘shape’, preliminary discussions have been raised by the Council committee for issuing a new 30-year Master-plan.
As yet, the University has refused to divulge the contents of the Master-plan.

Recent changes under the ‘old’ plan include: the demolition of Arts D & E, the refurbishment of Bramber House, the creation and expansion of Northfield residences and the grand finale of 2012, the Jubilee Building.
The report claims that all new buildings will have a “recognisable ‘Sussex Style’ integrated with the Spence campus” – although some may question the ability to draw parallels between the solar paneled violet of the Jubilee Building and the bricks and mortar of Spence’s Grade I listed Falmer House.

Nevertheless students and alumni have generally reacted positively to the changes on campus so far.

But a marked expansion of the size Sussex has in mind for 2020 will undoubtedly call for infrastructure improvements as well as a growth in the number of residences on campus.

There have been unconfirmed reports in previous years that East Slope, East Slope Bar and Park Village will all be demolished to make way for more financially prosperous housing.

In the Vice Chancellor’s report on the new Strategic Plan, it is outlined that to achieve maximum “financial sustainability”, campus development will generate “improved income per square metre”.

The rumours that East Slope would be demolished have been heard on campus for a number of years, leading to a campaign in 2010-11 called ‘Hope Beyond the Slope’. As the cheapest accommodation on campus, East Slope is currently home to up to 672 students.

Most residents were happy to pay less, one commenting that “I don’t need an en-suite. If I wanted one, I’d have opted for Northfield”. The Students’ Union has encouraged the University to give assurance that if East Slope is to be axed then non en-suite accommodation is built in its place to cater to the many students who simply “want somewhere cheap”.

With tuition fees for undergradutes hitting £9,000 for the first time, many are looking to economise their budget by subsidising the increased cost of academic study by living in cheaper accommodation.

Future generations of students could also be mourning the loss of East Slope Bar, a Students’ Union operated outlet which has reported takings of £108,700 in the last tax year.

Its position to the north of campus attracts hundreds of students every week to different events and nights, and most go away with fond memories of their first year spent basking in the summer sun with a pitcher of Pimms.
Carl, the Operations Officer, claimed in his manifesto that he aims to “open a Union bar in town”, possibly pre-empting the loss of East Slope Bar – students’ and the Union’s greatest financial asset.

There have so far been no assurances that East Slope will remain. As the dawn of a new master- plan draws closer, these rumours may not stay rumour for long.

But not just campus residents will be affected. Students who live off-campus will be frequented with the game of human Tetris that is inevitably played by those who have 9am starts.

Despite Brighton and Hove busses running every two minutes at morning-peak times, students are still stranded high and dry (if they’re lucky) due to the sheer number of students having to commute on to campus.

Brighton and Hove busses commented that “as the university continues to expand we will plan to expand the bus routes too as we have been doing over the last decade”.

Despite these claims, some students are left in doubt over whether the morning services will improve and expand as the demand does.
Infrastructure may need to be supported by further car parking spaces on campus, but with  parking rates having risen again in September 2012, students strapped-for-cash may be deterred.

The University has  estimated a “possible projection” of roughly 20,000 students studying here by 2020. The Vice Chancellor has committed its core purpose to student experience which is “quality as both a competitive product and an inherent good”.

It is clear that the ‘cat’ the campus has been said to resemble may will look very different in 2020.

The University declined to release details of the next masterplan and insisted that more preparation and planning was required before the plan would be ready for full public consultation but that this would take place in due course.

Take this week’s poll:
‘Should East Slope be demolished?’

Bree Allegretti
News Editor

Speculations about the what will be included in the university’s new campus ‘masterplan’. Illustration: Flora Thomson


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