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Chair of Council talks about student hardship

Dame Denise Holt, Chair of Council

Normally you would only hear from me every term when the full Council meets, but these unusual times mean that Sussex’s governing body is now meeting informally at roughly fortnightly intervals to receive briefings from the Vice-Chancellor and other Executive Group members.

We met most recently on the 17 April for an update on how the University and the sector as a whole are responding to current challenges and what steps are in place to ensure that, first and foremost, our students’ experience is disrupted as little as possible in these unprecedented  circumstances - both as regards their learning and welfare.

I have to say that members of the Council have been impressed by the Executive’s swift but thoughtful response to the unprecedented challenges.  The briefings have provided us with confidence on the steps that have been taken, such as the transition to online learning and the remission of accommodation fees for students not occupying their rooms on campus next term.

We are also grateful for the dedication and spirit of innovation shown by staff - both academic and professional services - across the University.  Change on this scale would normally take months of planning, and I would personally like to say thank you for what has been achieved.

Although there has been a herculean effort to adapt to this new world, we recognise that some students may find themselves in difficulties as a result of the lockdown and its consequences.  I know that University staff are working with the Students’ Union and directly with students themselves to share information about how they can access the Sussex student hardship fund.

At our recent meeting, members of Council expressed warm appreciation of Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell’s decision to forego 10% of his annual salary.  As a Council we agreed that this money should go towards the student hardship fund and welcomed the University’s commitment to provide match funding.

Council will meet formally on 4 May to review developments across the board, and to ensure full compliance with changing government and Office for Student requirements.  Thereafter, regular briefing sessions will take place as and when required.

By doing this, we will ensure that Council has the information and understanding it needs of the University’s resilience and long-term sustainability at a time when its responsibility for the economic well-being of the University is critical.

Dame Denise Holt


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By: Harvey Atkinson
Last updated: Wednesday, 22 April 2020

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