Happy 60th birthday to US 

On 16 August 1961, the University of Sussex received its Royal Charter. This was an historic moment, not just for Sussex, but for higher education in the UK.

  • Video transcript

    I was asked to make new plans for university, for young people, boys and girls, whether they can be happy together and learn to be good citizens.

    My name is Roger Martin. I was one of the second group of students to come through here, so I was here from 66 to 69.

    You were at a university that was brand new. It was beautifully designed. It was a lovely location. In a way, you imbibed that same feeling of newness.

    Everyone I meet is absolutely passionate about Sussex. They love this university.

    And that passion, I think comes from the community and the founding values.

    Those principles in 1961 that this university was set up with Sussex was also a little bit of a goldfish bowl in those days because the media was still fascinated by it.

    Remember, this was the the mid 60s. You had everything from Vietnam to flower power.

    You had the social changes that were taking place. And Sussex was part of that whole thing.

    It gives the students and the staff different experiences about how to engage in the world.

    It was a microcosm of the world. I never felt judged.

    I never felt that I had to think or act in a certain way to conform and never be.

    Is that kind of personal touch where you genuinely feel your lecturers are invested in your education?

    They treated you as a peer group and that was great for you.

    Students are really encouraged to think differently, question things, try new approaches.

    Don't be afraid to debate things with teachers realising that there's always a space for our ideas as well.

    No one's ever excluded for how they think or what they believe or what they want to learn.

    They told me not to be afraid of failure, but it also, I think, taught me that I believe in what I felt and that that belief was grounded in something.

    I credit the people that I was around my peer group, my tutors, all of them together created that environment.

    Sussex is really different because it's a single campus university, it's in this beautiful valley tucked into the south, stands next to Brighton in the summer.

    The music, the people, the atmosphere, you really feel like you're living your best life.

    I really enjoy the people I meet here.

    There's always this very kind and very inclusive environment, people are always very interested to work together.

    I think that environment of inclusiveness being kind to one another and supporting each other within university and what our university means, I think it's really important that we lack the ability to work across disciplines to address global challenges.

    We have World-Class research going on here. I'm somebody who likes to collaborate a lot. When I say collaboration, I also mean collaboration with students. If you if you give them that platform to express your views, express your ideas, you hear a lot of progressive views.

    It still feels new. It still feels interesting. I think that's a credit to the designers, to the location and to the people who created that ethos, because that's obviously carried through the generations.

    It's really allowed me to figure out what it is that I want to do in the future, trusting my creativity.

    That's what's got me here in the first place. I feel very moved when I think that Sussex is 60 years old. It's incredible how much Sussex has done. I mean, 60 years is not that old.

    My time at Sussex was nothing short of transformational. I walked away feeling I had the ability to change the world.

We could – and did – design our own academic structure, including pioneering the notion of ‘interdisciplinarity’ by combining separate but related subject areas into the curriculum. This is now the standard for universities.

As well as intellectual freedom, we offered a bold new environment shaped by Sir Basil Spence’s daring architecture, the natural beauty of the Sussex countryside, and the emergence of Brighton as one of the hippest towns in Swinging Sixties Britain.

Things have changed – but not a lot. We still have one of the UK’s most vibrant student communities, with individuals whose compassion, energy and commitment leads them to make real and positive change beyond Sussex.  Our cool campus is perennially adored and revered. And our researchers and educators never stop pushing at and crossing intellectual boundaries – from the development of quantum technology to advancing the most effective and innovative ways to save our planet.

For our diamond jubilee year we’re planning a range of live and streamed public events to celebrate our great achievements and those who helped make them. And we’re looking ahead to what we can do to be a better university for a better world.

Our journey continues. Join the ride. 


Development and Alumni Relations enquiries:

+44 (0)1273 678258

Development and Alumni Relations
University of Sussex
United Kingdom

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