Strategy 2025

Combined Schools Proposal

Summary

In April 2019, a proposal was presented to the University Executive Group (UEG) to seek approval to begin an engagement process to explore the potential for a new configuration for the School of History, Art History and Philosophy (HAHP), the School of English, the School of Media, Film and Music (MFM) and the Sussex Centre for Language Studies (SCLS).

The proposal was authored by the Heads of School in these areas who recommended considering a new academic model which would see the Schools come together as one unit - improving student experience and learning, positively impacting research and providing new possibilities for interdisciplinarity.

Combining the four areas could provide the opportunity to unlock potential across all areas by creating critical mass, visibility, community and voice. For example:

  • The student experience - liberating structures such as timetabling, academic framework and communication systems into one open structure could bring vast benefits opening spaces for co-teaching across the areas
  • Research - more closely aligning our research expertise across the schools
  • External engagement - co-ordinating our working relationships with valued partners across a range of regional, national and international partnerships

The University Executive Group (UEG) approved the proposal and this resulted in the delivery of a comprehensive engagement process to enable staff and students to contribute their views on the Combined School Proposal. This was done via group sessions, email and a survey between May and July 2019. The results from this engagement process formed part of a paper submitted to the UEG. Subsequently UEG agreed that the Combined School Proposal should move to the Design Phase.

 

Design Phase

The Design Phase began on the 26 September 2019, and concluded on 1 November 2019. During this period, staff had the opportunity to explore and discuss individually and in groups, what a Combined School operating structure could be through individual School meetings and a Joint School meeting.

Student feedback was collected by the Students' Union during October, and there were two meetings organised by the Schools for students to share their views on what a proposed School structure could look like.

Additionally, the Design Phase was a standing agenda item on all School Committees and other School meetings. The Combined School Engagement Group continued to meet regularly to review progress and make recommendations that took into account staff and students views.

This activity led to the creation of a proposed complete School structure design that was shared at the Joint School meeting on 30 October 2019.

A key principle of the overall process to explore the creation of a Combined School is transparency. This ethos continued in the Design Phase and a range of comprehensive information is available on the Rationale documents page. It is recommended that staff and students read the materials to understand what primary information has been used in the proposed Combined School structure.

You can also view a short narrated Panopto presentation of some the possible models, the design principles that arose from Phase one and suggested questions for consideration.

Update

The outcome of the Design Phase engagement process with students and staff was overall in favour of the four Schools coming together. During this period students and staff submitted their ideas and suggestions for a Combined School structure. This helped shape a School structure model which was accompanied by reports from the Students' Union and trade unions and submitted for consideration by Senate on the 11 December 2019, where it was unanimously agreed to recommend the proposal to Council.

On the recommendation of Senate, the proposal was then approved by Council on the 18 December 2019.

Following Council's approval to combine for the Schools of English, Media, Film and Music (MFM), the School of History, Art History and Philosophy (HAHP), and the Sussex Centre for Language Studies to become one School, a transition period has now started. 

Dean-Elect of new School appointed

Kate O'Riorden, has been appointed as Dean-Elect of the new School. She will lead a team made up of the existing heads of School and a combined Senior Management Team (SMT). Work has now begun to develop a project management structure and working groups to implement the changes required to create the School, which will formally launch in August 2020l.

Students should be aware that these developments will not affect their education experience or award in any way.

A new group, building on the successful work of the previous Engagement Group, will be formed to continue its advisory role in helping to steer the engagement process with students and staff. This group will also support the continued to commitment to transparency during the transition period. 

Staff and students will continue to be updated as developments occur.

This page will be updated as the Combined School Proposal progresses. In the meantime if you have any questions or suggestions please email: PhaseOne@sussex.ac.uk.