Sussex 2025


What are the reasons for setting up a new school?

The three heads of school and centre director believe that coming together as one unit will provide a strong and internationally renowned platform for the Arts, Humanities and Digital Media, which builds on the visionary foundation that saw Sussex define these fields of study from the outset. The hypothesis is that a merger of schools would further liberate the interdisciplinary energies at work in research and teaching, and that this in turn would provide greater success in academic terms to the benefit of students, staff and the University.

How will students benefit from being part of one unit?

The schools already share a number of programmes and teach across disciplinary barriers but in a limited way. Current timetabling structures, the academic framework and communication systems inhibit teaching across schools in the Under Graduate curriculum, and do not always provide the very best student experience. Liberating these structures with one open structural framework would change this and allow the schools to address issues, such as the experience of joint degree students.

What other benefits would a merger realise?

The heads believe that one structural unit would ensure they could deliver on greater student choice and interdisciplinary promise in the curriculum, as well as increasing student numbers. This increase in scale would unlock potential across a number of areas by creating critical mass, visibility, community and voice. The vision is to be outward looking and ambitious, with a loud and respected voice in the debates now shaping the sector, and our global futures.

How will staff benefit from being part of one unit?

There is already a lot of interdisplinary research occurring across the University and with these schools. However, it is believed that by sharing research expertise, in areas such as digital and ecological humanities, AI, performance and visual arts, activities could be scaled up and academics in these areas could be better supported by coming together. In addition, by bringing together the highest performing research areas, we have the potential to accelerate the best possible outcomes for future Research Excellence Framework reviews. There would also be many benefits at operating at scale as initiatives could be much richer, more productive, cutting edge and economically efficient if scaled differently.

How will this affect the University’s external partners?

We have the potential to strengthen our external engagement if we co-ordinated our working relationships with valued partners such as the BBC, ACCA, The Globe, the V&A, The British Museum, the Keep, Brighton Festival and a range of regional, national and international partnerships.

Is this proposal a result of financial challenges?

There are significant financial challenges facing the Higher Education sector including Sussex. This proposed structural change is not intended to address these challenges directly, but by reconstructing the units into a single School, we would be able to explore how we can work more effectively, more efficiently, and ensure access by all disciplines to as many resources as possible.

With three schools and the language centre coming together, will this mean there are redundancies?

This proposal does not consider any changes in staff numbers, nor will it produce any information on this, as it is only exploring the academic concept. If the recommendation coming out of the engagement process is that we should proceed further with exploration and UEG approves this, the focus would then turn to organisational structures and what this may mean for staff.

What will happen with Professional Services staff in each of the schools?

This proposal is aimed at ensuring there is the best possible academic structure to deliver on a vision of a reconstructed School. If the proposal is approved by the University’s Council, the make-up of professional and administrative support to the new School may change – and we will work with staff to ensure the best structure and processes are put in place.

What is the timetable, closing date and process for engagement?

The Design Phase Engagement Activity will run from the 23 September and close on the 1 November. During this time we will be conducting an engagement process to enable students and staff to comment on the proposed Combined School structure. Your School will be in touch to let you know about how you can share your views at a School meeting, and later on in the first term at a joint Schools meeting.

The Engagement Group will then review the outcomes from these meetings and provide a recommendation to the University Executive Group (UEG). If the recommendation is to go ahead with the merger and it is approved by UEG, it will then need to be put before the University’s Council. This is expected to take place in December 2019.

What will happen with the feedback that staff and students provide during the engagement process?

All comments and views will be reviewed by the Engagement Group and taken into consideration as part of the recommendation for UEG.

What is the membership of the engagement group and how is the University is ensuring wide consultation on this proposal?

An Engagement Group will oversee the engagement process and Provost Saul Becker will chair this. The group will include all three Heads of School and the Centre, a Students’ Union representative and an additional representative from each school, nominated by the Head of School.

If the proposal is approved, what changes will occur for current students?

If the University’s Council approves this proposal, there will not be any immediate changes for students, but we will ensure that we will be sharing information of any upcoming benefits as soon as possible. Students’ studies will not be disrupted in any way and we will ensure that everyone is made aware of any changes coming out of the merger.

What is the timing for the implementation of the proposal, if it is approved?

If the proposal is approved, we envisage that a reconstructed School would be in place by September 2020.

What if I have more questions which come up during the engagement process?

The Engagement Group will be meeting regularly throughout the process and will be providing updates on common questions. Please check back on these web pages.

Who can I talk to you if am worried about this proposal?

In the first instance, please speak with your line manager or Head of School. However if you do not wish to do this, you can also speak with you HR business partner or contact the Employee Assistance Programme. This is run by another organisation and anything raised is completely confidential.

View the Initial Design Phase activity timeline as at 20 August 2019 [PPTX 3.77MB]