The following testimonies come from MA and BA students who have signed the Open Letter to Adam Tickell opposing the University’s move online.
If you haven’t already, please read the letter, and share on social media.

Benjamin Matthews – Postgraduate Education Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union, who is re-running for Education and Employability Officer in the elections next week.

“At a time when international and national events are taking so much away from us, students need to fight hard to hold onto what they deserve.

The impact of the sweeping changes to teaching, learning and assessment here at Sussex on students, cannot be underestimated. Students have had huge chunks of what they have paid for, deserved to receive, and need in order to progress post-university, taken away. Hearing first-hand the lived experience of many students, who have saved, borrowed, or worked hard for huge amounts of money, some of whom have traveled great distances to study here, who will now receive far less than they deserve, has been a humbling experience.

The University of Sussex management need to listen carefully to what students are saying right now, as it will be the foundation on which our university will be judged for years to come by prospective students looking for a university that truly cares about students.

I signed this open letter because it speaks truth to power, in the honest voice of students, who are having to endure an academic year like no other.

I urge Adam Tickell to do the difficult thing, to listen to students who are crying out, and to bring about the pedagogic revolution Sussex has been championing.

Let’s co-create education right here at Sussex, by students and staff rebuilding teaching, learning and assessment in new ways that take into account the radically changed times we are in.”

Becca Bashford – Literature and Philosophy – MA

“I signed the open letter to the Vice Chancellor because I deeply believe that online teaching is an inadequate alternative to face-to-face teaching. While I understand and respect the need to close the campus, I think that forcing students and staff to turn to a completely new format of learning and teaching is unattainable and will have serious repercussions to our final grades. Masters students will be affected by this in many ways – I personally have two essays which are due in early May, both of which are worth 100% of the module grade, and I haven’t had any communication about a change of deadline. The coronavirus has had a serious impact on student’s abilities to focus and study; many students have lost their source of income, some don’t know if they’ll be able to pay their rent, and others do not have adequate access to resources at home to study to the same level they would if the university was running as usual. Students and staff cannot be expected to carry on as normal, this is an unprecedented situation which requires a properly thought out response which takes into account the views and needs of students in this worrying and scary time.”

Chris Harding – Undergraduate Education Officer at USSU 

“I’ve signed because as Undergraduate Education Officer of the Students’ Union I’ve seen students have an incredibly difficult year here at Sussex. From strikes to coronavirus, many students have lost countless weeks of teaching and lots of opportunities to develop as individuals. It is now time for the University to do all they can to help these students by being as flexible as possible, to allow students to graduate and receive the grades they have worked so hard for.”

Billie-Jean Johnson – MA Conflict, Security and Development

“As a student at the University of Sussex for the past five years, their actions this academic year have been wholeheartedly disappointing, if not completely unexpected.

Their reluctance to act as responsible employers and provide appropriate support to their staff instead of themselves has not only effected staff, but also students. The University has continually ignored the needs of students while attempting to place blame on staff, who have been striking to attempt to protect the crumbling institution of higher education.

While staff have put their jobs and their own financial stability on the line to fight for this, the University has continued to rake in money, while failing to do their basic duty of providing education, by refusing the UCU’s terms.

The Covid-19 pandemic, while unprecedented, has been brewing for weeks. The University’s response has been lacklustre, and when combined with the strikes, has been downright irresponsible. Now, not only have we missed 6 weeks of classes due to strikes, we have missed a seventh due to the University’s shortsightedness.

Thanks to the University’s decision last year to shorten term lengths (without making any adjustments in pricing), I have now missed almost one third of my MA course.

In all of this, the University seems to have forgotten its key role – that of an institution of learning. No students at the University have not chosen to be here. We put our learning, and our futures, in their hands. We have watched them bleed us dry. I did not come to this University for a slip of paper, I came for an opportunity to learn from the best. The University management seem to believe they are the crux of this university, but at the end of the day the only reason they have ever mattered to students is their continued attempts to tear apart every good thing about Sussex as a whole.

Signing this letter is our way of saying no. We will not accept their decision to wash their hands of us, while continuing to take our money. They will not be rid of students so easily. A couple of emails will not send us away. We deserve more, and we deserve far better.

The University’s motto is to be still and know. Adam Tickell likes to quote it in Guardian articles. I charge him to be still, and know this – this is our home, and we will not be forced out while being robbed blind.”

“Last day in the library.”
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