The University of Sussex's proposal to close its Centre for Community Engagement seems to conflict with the institution's stated aims to widen access and to engage more with the local community. The proposed closure comes at a time when other universities are maintaining or expanding their community engagement and continuing-education activities.
It is not surprising that the plan has provoked questions from Sussex MPs from all the major political parties. The centre's school and the university itself are in rude financial health and can afford to support much of the CCE's work. The centre also runs a successful summer school and popular MA programmes that could help to sustain it further, and its students often go on to other Sussex degrees. There is no equivalent provision locally.
At a time when unemployment is rising, Sussex's plan would have devastating consequences for adult learners and the local community. It also means, of course, that many dedicated staff are at risk of redundancy.
John Drury, Senior lecturer in social psychology, University of Sussex