Threat to students' demands for 8 hours contact

March 17, 2006

Students are furious at the proposed redundancies at Sussex University believing cuts could scupper their campaign for a minimum of eight hours a week contact time with lecturers.

Student leaders, who have been complaining about low student-staff contact hours since last September, planned to call for the resignation of Alisdair Smith, vice-chancellor, at the university senate meeting, which was held after The Times Higher went to press.

The student union has submitted a 30-page document to the university listing their concerns, including student-to-staff ratios, overreliance on associate tutors, library opening hours and facilities, rent rises, social facilities, and lack of support for overseas students. They claim that many students get just two hours a week contact time with academics.

Roger Hylton, president of Sussex student union, which held a protest rally earlier in the week, said the prospect of staff redundancies in chemistry and other disciplines was a big concern.

"Contact hours are well below the average for a 94 Group university, and seminar sizes have grown to 20 people in a group. This is not acceptable."

A Sussex spokesman said that if there was evidence of minimum hours not being met the university would rectify the situation.

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