MP’s pick up where students leave off

Two Sussex MP’s have highlighted the concern of students regarding the University of Sussex and its plans to start outsourcing support services, as well as its reaction to a student demonstration. Andrew Smith and Ben Bradshaw, both Labour MP’s, have written to Michael Farthing, the vice chancellor of the university, asking for clarification on both their future plans and the recent action they tool against the protesting students.

Around 25 protesters were forcefully removed last week from the Falmer Campus, and a spokesman at the time said the the University had acted in a reasonable manner and Mr Farthing had set out the action to local MP’s. The student occupation began after the university announced its decision to outsource 235 jobs on the campus, including catering positions, to external firms.

In his letter Exeter MP Mr Bradshaw, himself a graduate of the University of Sussex, said that a number of students had contacted him voicing their concerns about the plans to privatise around 90% of the campus’ support staff. He added that the students were also alleging the decisions had been made behind closed doors without any kind of consultation and they had also complained about intimidation.

He goes on to say that he would be grateful if Mr Farthing could explain the reasoning behind the university’s decisions and also respond to the criticisms that have come out of it as well as the way in which it was undertaken. A spokesman for Andrew Smith, an MP for Oxford East said that his letter raised concerns about future plans and also the way that the university has reacted to those who opposed those plans.

A spokesman for the University of Sussex has since said that the vice chancellor had now replied to both Ben Bradshaw and Andrew Smith and had set out the correct position at the university in some detail.