Sussex students claim broken promises

January 20, 2006

Students at Sussex University have issued a vote of no confidence in the management of the institution, claiming that they were given false promises about the quality of their education.

The Sussex student union presented a detailed dossier to the university council last month, outlining a number of complaints. The council has two more weeks in which to respond.

The union accused the university of having a poor management structure, serious financial problems and inadequate resources. It slammed the institution for leaving much of its undergraduate teaching in the hands of "inadequately trained" postgraduate lecturers and for failing to offer sufficient contact time with tutors outside large lecture halls.

Roger Hylton, the student union president, said: "Students at Sussex have been promised all these things in the prospectus. But when they arrive, it doesn't match up in any way, shape or form. Students feel they are paying so much and not getting the services they deserve."

He added: "Students have lost trust in the vice-chancellor. There was a vote of no confidence in him in 2003, but nothing has changed. The university is not listening."

A student studying English literature said: "My core course for the autumn term, 'The novel', was taught by two-hour lecture only, with no seminars.

With more than 300 students, it is next to impossible for the course to be taught effectively, and without seminars students lose motivation."

A final-year student of geography and development studies said: "I am not receiving what I expected out of university and feel that I should have gone to the Open University, which is a far cheaper option."

A Sussex spokeswoman said: "Much of what the students are looking for is action, which we already have in hand, whether on strategic planning, management structures, housing or student representation."

She said: "Our income is growing year on year, but so are the costs we face. In looking to control spending last year, we took care to protect services to students."

She said that the university would continue to face tough spending decisions.

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