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Save CCE

13th March 2012 10:49 am

The Centre for Community Engagement (CCE) is a department within the University that is devoted to engaging and making good ties within the local community, and providing Adult learning courses and continuing education.

The University is proposing the closure of this department on the grounds that it is not economically viable, in a move away from cross subsidization between departments and the enforcement that all departments must run at a 4% Profit.

The final decision on the proposed closure will be made by the University's Council which meets on 23rd March. The decision will also be discussed at the University's Senate on 14th March.

We want to save the CCE because we believe that Sussex should be giving back to the local community!

What you can do

Please sign the petition to save the CCE and the good reputation of Sussex within the local community - ipetitions.com/petition/community-engagement-at-sussex

You can lobby your University Senators and Councillors before their meetings. You can find their contact details by logging in to Sussex Direct and selecting 'Committees' from the 'Search' dropdown menu. You are welcome to use or adapt our template letter;

Dear Senate/Council member,

In recent weeks, it has come to our attention that the University is planning the final phase-out of the Centre for Community Engagement.

We are discontent with the lack of consultation with the Students' Union, and are worried not only about the 142 proposed redundancies, but also about the effect that this will have on widening participation (WP) within the University, and the affect the closure could have on the reputation of the University of Sussex in the local community.

The University has a commitment to WP, but the current WP strategy has no provision for mature students. It has been recorded that mature student numbers drop significantly following fees increases. With the £9000 fees set to be introduced next year we can predict that mature student numbers will drop. The CCE could be a real asset in drawing more WP students to University degree courses. When we talk about mature students, we're not just referring to students aged 21 or over at point of entry, we're talking about having a real commitment to underrepresented groups such as Student Parents, or people looking to change or further their careers, as well as simply breaking the taboo that suggests that 18 is the prime age for University study.

The Students' Union is committed to engaging with the local community, for instance through our volunteer programme Project V, which provided 210 volunteer placements in the local community in the 2010-11 academic year, but the CCE provides important opportunities for members of the local community that are not comparable to the work that the Students' Union does or has the capacity to do. Redeployment of CCE staff, although is an effort at damage limitation, doesn't account for the fact that many excellent learning opportunities will no longer be available to members of the local community.

If Sussex's reputation is damaged by the closure of the CCE, then it is students who will directly feel the effects of this. There are thousands of Sussex students living and working in the local community and the reception that we receive from locals can severely affect the student experience, and the way that we develop throughout our time at University.

We implore members of the University Senate to encourage the University to look at more innovative ways of ensuring that the Centre for Community Engagement can continue with its exceptional work.

The University of Glasgow its' thriving Centre for Open Studies seems to be an interesting model to look at with its clear commitment to life long learning:

"We are committed to public engagement and aim to provide part-time learning opportunities for adults in the West of Scotland and to widen access to University education to the community at large. Most of the courses are open to all regardless of background. There are no entry qualifications and usually no requirement of previous subject knowledge. We are committed to the maintenance of University quality and traditions of excellence in all that it offers. Our staff ensure quality through their own research and scholarship and have special experience and/or training in initiating, designing, promoting and teaching courses for adults."

Thank you for your patience in reading this correspondence. We welcome any feedback and hope that you will encourage and support the continuation of activity at the Centre for Community Engagement.