Hastings East Hill

Figures released last week by UCAS reveal that 12,400 fewer UK students have applied to go to university in September 2018, than compared to the same point last year.

With tuition fees set to rise, an increase in the rate of interest on student loans, and a perceived lack of graduate jobs, you can see why many students are finding an alternative to university.

In a recent article The Guardian revealed that some university lectures could cost students £135 per hour, when taking into account the £9,000 fees and the amount of contact time they get with their tutor, leaving students wondering if a degree is really worth it?

But according to the Higher Education Manager at University Centre Hastings; University is worth it, and it can be affordable to all.

“The cost of university has increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Many students have their hearts set on university but are being put off by the increasing amount of debt,” says David Fowler. “That is why we’re reaching out to students to give them a much more affordable option, without sacrificing any of the quality,”

“There are lots of fantastic opportunities available to college and sixth form students right on their door step. Traditionally, students want to move away from their home town to gain that university experience, but with fees set to rise to £9,250, interest rates on student loans rising from 4.6% to 6.1%, and the cost of living continuing to rise, many simply can’t afford to move away, so I believe staying local is the answer.”

It would seem that staying local is a trend on the rise. Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that 638,855 full-time students in the UK were living with their parents, or in their own home, while studying last year (academic year 2016/17). This was an increase of 40,755 from the 598,100 students who started a degree in 2015/16.

The cost of living in Hastings is also lower than other university towns and cities in the South East. According to Numbeo, a user-generated cost-of-living statistics website, essential living costs, such as rent and food, is approximately 45% less than compared to Brighton.

Poppy Carter, a first year BA (Hons) Graphic Communication at University Centre Hastings said: “This is actually my second spell at University. In 2016 I started an art degree at Arts University Bournemouth, but due to a number of things, including the cost of living, I decided to drop-out and move back home to Hastings. The cost of living was really expensive and my student loan just about covered the cost of the rent, leaving me very little money for essential things like food. Now I’m studying and living in Hastings, I have more money to spend on food and course materials, as well as enjoy the social aspects of uni.”

As well as the financial savings, David Fowler explains the other benefits to studying at University Centre Hastings. “The quality of our provision is fantastic. We have gained full confidence from the QQA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) for our teaching and standards. We offer over 30 higher education qualifications, including a number of higher apprenticeships, as well as 6 full honour, Bachelor of Arts subjects awarded by the University of Brighton. We’re able to offer these courses with the pull of a certificate from the University of Brighton, but saving students almost £2,000 a year than if they studied the equivalent subject elsewhere.

We put all of our courses together with the industry in mind, adding strong vocational elements to the modules. This enables the students to take advantage of our excellent links with the community, Sussex employers, and international industry experts to increase their experience of working on live projects and build their own network of contacts.”

Grace Leaney, former BA (Hons) Illustration student said: “The two main things that stood out for me during my time at UCH was being able to gain a lot of valuable experience by working on live projects for local restaurants and venues, and learning how to network and build contacts. This was invaluable to me, something I don’t think I would have been able to do if I was at another uni and part of a much bigger class. I was given quality time to talk to my tutors and industry experts which has now led me to work on big projects for Hilton Hotels, Jim Beam Whiskey and One Love Festival.”

The largest online student community in the UK, The Student Room, also suggest that students should look at the added value of university, rather than just league tables.

In a recent article, they explain that league tables aren’t everything and students shouldn’t just base their decision purely on the number against a University’s name; even top university bosses agree. They recommend considering how much it is to live there, researching the finer details of the course, considering whether you will be happy there, and what else will you get out of the degree other than the qualification, to ensure you get value for money.

David continued: “Value for money is becoming such an important aspect of university and we pride ourselves on ensuring our students get real value for every pound they spend. We’re able to offer smaller class sizes, in brand new lecture rooms and art studios, with increased and meaningful contact time with lecturers and tutors. When we follow the formula of working out our hourly lecture rate, students studying on our BA (Hons) art programmes could be paying up to 80% less.”

Helen Bowler, National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) coordinator in Hastings, also argues that lower living costs and lower fees would help to widen participation. The HESA revealed that there was only a 0.1% increase in the number of students from deprived areas attending university in autumn 2016 from the previous year.

“The increased cost of university, along with the scrapping of maintenance grants for students on low incomes, creates too many barriers for a lot of students from deprived areas. Why should talented students miss out on higher education because they cannot afford it?

Hastings is the thirteenth most deprived of all local authorities, which is why we work to help make university more accessible.

Some of the things that we can offer include a cash bursary to go towards the cost of attending university open days and interviews; we regularly hold one-to-one progression coaching sessions to discuss all kinds of higher education routes including HNC, HND, Top-up courses and Higher Apprenticeships; and the University of Brighton is helping to run study skills sessions to help those students who are re-sitting GCSE maths, to help boost their grades the second time around.

The important thing is that we’re able to offer impartial information advice and guidance, to let them know about all the options that are out there and to see university as a springboard into their future career; more of an investment rather than a debt.”

So perhaps staying local is the answer to combatting the cost of university.

The next stage in the proposed merger between Sussex Coast College Hastings and Sussex Downs College has been completed following the public consultation period towards the end of 2017.

A public consultation document was available to stakeholders and the general public to ask any questions or raise any concerns they may have about the planned merger between the two colleges.

Clive Cooke, CEO designate said: “We’re pleased to have completed a successful consultation process, and we have welcomed a number of responses.

While the majority of responses were positive, including the dissolution of Sussex Downs College, there were a number of queries raised in the following areas that we would like to address:

Assurance that the merged college would focus upon improving lower than regional average Key Stage 5 (16-18 year old) achievement rates

Our revised structure will have three Principal posts and a comprehensive curriculum management structure under these senior posts to relentless focus upon improving the quality of our provision and our students’ results.

The focus upon A-Levels and improving these outcomes, particularly in Eastbourne and Lewes

Our strategy is to refocus Sussex Downs College and create two college brands that will have strong identities in the communities. We envisage a sixth-form college brand and a professional and technical college brand for Lewes and Eastbourne.

• The sixth form college brand will be a specialist in, A levels, and will be complemented by some applied general provision that focuses predominantly on Level 3, with some provision below Level 3 to access students.

• The professional and technical college brand will deliver a unique model of education and training, providing young people, adults and employers with the skills needed for today and in the future.

Concerns about the loss of A-Level or engagement programmes for those young people at risk of being Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) provision at any of the campuses

The new college group will be committed to both of these types of provision across the Eastbourne, Lewes and Hastings campuses and will continue to review and refresh the provision to ensure it meets local need.

A loss of identity in a large merged group

As a priority for summer term 2018, the college will be undertaking a consultation exercise that will engage local communities, employers and stakeholders to ensure that each campus identity and vision and values reflects the local requirements. Both Corporation Boards have deliberated and agreed that the merger and dissolution of Sussex Downs College is the most appropriate way forward. There will be equal representation from both Boards on the new Board, coupled with significant external recruitment to the Board to ensure solid engagement with our audiences and stakeholders.”

 Time to talk day 2018

Sussex Coast College Hastings helped to raise awareness about mental health and national Time to Talk day last Thursday by hosting an event organised by Southdown Peers in Partnership, designed to get people talking about mental health.

Throughout the day students and staff were able to visit stalls and attend workshops, run by guest organisations such as Southdown – Support Employment Services, i-Rock, Health Watch, and Sussex Partnership Trust, to talk about mental health, how to disclose mental health, taking the next steps, and discuss well-being.

Smoothie making at Time to talk day

Students and staff were able to understand what mental health is, learn about disclosing mental health while at college or at work, and discuss what changes have been made to support young people experiencing mental health problems in Hastings.

Time to Talk Day is a national campaign led by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, intended to encourage people to speak out about their mental health and end widespread stigma.

According to Mind, it is thought that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year, and perhaps an even more staggering statistic, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services estimate that half of all mental health problems manifest before the age of 14.

Hands in on Time to talk day

Lydia Leonard, Intensive Personal Advisor, said: “It has been fantastic to welcome so many organisations into the College to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing. Every day we meet students who are either directly or indirectly affected by mental health difficulties. Hopefully, this event has helped highlight what support is available and encourage them to access it. Thank you to all the organisations who attended.”

Time to talk day was launched in 2014 and is held on the first Thursday in February. So far the day has reached millions of people, enabling vital conversations about mental illness at work, in schools, and between friends and families. It's also a chance for bosses to think about stigma at the workplace, and includes an Employer Pledge.

Working at SCCH

Working at Sussex Coast College Hastings is brilliant. We are a general further education college in Hastings, offering a wide range of courses that include A-Levels, Vocational Diplomas, Apprenticeships, Degrees and Part-time courses.

We have three modern campuses at Station Plaza, Ore Valley and the Automotive Centre at Ivyhouse Lane, which we moved into in 2011. We have some amazing facilities and resources for students to learn their trade in including a fully-equipped gym, commercial hair and beauty salons, a training kitchen and commercial restaurant, fuselage, art studios with a printing press and kiln, and real-life working environments to practice brickwork, plumbing and carpentry.

But what makes working at Sussex Coast College different?

We’re a close-knit bunch…

It might sound like a cliché, but we really are like a family. Our unique bond and togetherness plays a big part in helping to make our college a friendly and inspiring place; something that students and staff want to be part of. And Ofsted agree. During our inspection in December 2017, inspectors commented that “Students have exemplary attitudes to learning and behave very well. They respect each other, their teachers and assessors.”

Everything is rosy when things are good, but you can tell a lot about an organisation by the way staff pull together in challenging times; and we do exactly that. There is a great sense of teamwork, and colleagues are always happy to go out of their way to help each other “Leaders and managers have created a very positive environment for learning where everyone is valued.”

We have fantastic training opportunities to help our staff develop…

We have fantastic opportunities for personal development. At the start of each new term we put on staff development programmes that all staff can attend free of charge. We arrange external companies to visit the college and put on sessions to help improve teamwork, discuss mindfulness and well-being, and up-skill our staff with the latest technology.

We also have a range of part-time training courses available at the college, either from our own provision or at our on-site pitman training centre. We’re able to fund or part fund relevant courses, that will benefit their job role and help them to development their skills. For instance, staff who work in student support roles, regularly offering advice and guidance to students about their careers, have been able to complete a Level 4 Careers, Information and Advice Diploma.

But one of the biggest advantages of working here is the opportunity to train as a teacher while you do the job. This is perfect for anyone who wants a change of career, or anyone with an exceptional amount of experience in a specific industry. People can be put off by a career in teaching because they think they need to have a teaching qualification behind them already; but that isn’t the case. We can offer PGCE and Cert Ed qualifications, which again can be funded or part funded by the college, to help train you in the art of teaching while you are working.

We champion home-grown talent…

We know the value of keeping hold of our staff, helping them to grow, and become the managers of the future. We have an extensive range of home-grown talent at the college. Staff members, who have been with us for a number of years, are now coaching our newest recruits. One of our shining examples is a member of staff who started out as a sessional catering tutor 10 years ago, and is now a curriculum area manager.

We live our college values…

Our staff live our college values every day. We strive to inspire, we’re focused and we’re passionate. We don’t need to be reminded of our values, because we respect each other, we’re polite and friendly, and we help one another at every opportunity. We do this because we care about the college, the students and the community.

Our colleagues know what’s going on…

We have an open and transparent culture at the college, where our Senior Leadership Team is able to share important college news and information. We are able to inform all of our colleagues about the performance of the college, from exam results to the types of challenges we face in the public sector. We use our staff development days as an opportunity to keep our staff up to date, but also encourage them to raise concerns, ask questions, and give feedback.

So, as you can see, Sussex Coast College Hastings is a great place to work because you will be supported from the moment you join, made to feel like one of the team, and given the opportunities to grow and develop.

Sussex Coast College Hastings web

Sussex Coast College Hastings has received a glowing report in its latest Ofsted inspection.

Her Majesty’s inspectors visited the college during the last week of term in 2017 and awarded a Grade 2, GOOD, rating across all areas of the college.

The report highlighted the high achievements of students in all subjects, which is well above the national average. It revealed that there is excellent progression opportunities for students and almost all of them can go on to further or higher education, training or employment. Students were also recognised for their exemplary behaviour and attitudes to learning.

Clive Cooke, Principal & CEO said: “I am delighted that Ofsted has recognised the great work my colleagues have done to secure the Grade 2 finding and am delighted for our students who are enjoying significant success on moving on to employment, university or further training. We have invested a lot of effort in ensuring our students gain worthy work experience to aid them in their pursuit of employment”.

“There has been a concerted effort to implement a carefully planned and highly effective staff development programme for managers and teaching staff and this has heavily contributed to an overall positive result”.

The report also highlighted the positive learning environment that has been created by leaders and managers.

Rt Hon. Amber Rudd MP said: “I am delighted to see that Sussex Coast College has been granted a grade 2 rating of ‘Good’ by Ofsted in their latest report. I would like to highlight the work of the staff who have improved the college from its grade 4 ‘Inadequate’ rating issued in 2012. I always enjoy visiting Sussex Coast College and look forward to seeing these improvements on my next visit.”

Ofsted recently changed the inspection framework to a more stringent and rigorous criteria meaning that colleges need to meet higher standards to achieve their grading.

You can read the full report here.


So we’re one month into the New Year and it’s still grey and miserable outside.

The five of us in the office are in total agreement about what to do when the weather is so rubbish; and that is go to the cinema and watch a film.

So that sparked the Top 5 for January. We treated ourselves to an extended coffee break and came up with our 5 must see films of 2018.


Ash’s pick

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Release date - 26 January

I’ve chosen Maze Runner partly because the film is out now, and considering I haven’t been to the cinema for ages, it means I can go and see it this weekend. Maze runner was one of those films that I expected very little from, but I actually loved. Based on the Maze Runner novels by James Dashner, the first two films were really good and set it up nicely for the third instalment (so if you haven’t seen part 1 and 2, then you need a little catch up before you go).

The basic storyline follows a group of teens trapped in a maze in a post-apocalyptic world. They have no idea what is beyond the walls, but over the duration of the two films they soon find out that it is no coincidence that they’re in the maze, and fight to free themselves and stay alive.

If this film is as good as the first two, then it should be a great watch.


Gem’s pick

Tomb Raider

Release date - 16 March

I love movies with a strong female lead - and they don’t get any stronger than Lara Croft!

I am really excited about the new Tomb Raider movie out in March. Watching my boyfriend play Rise of the Tomb Raider, I loved how Lara Croft lost everything, but then rose up to fight for her life and everything that she believes in.

This movie focuses on the mystery surrounding the death of Lara’s father. Croft then stops at no lengths to solve this 7 year mystery. Long gone is the Angelina Jolie look and style! Say hello to Alicia Vikander, a young independent lady who wants to form her own path.

This film will certainly help you face the brutal reality of life - survival!


Justin’s pick

Ready Player One

Release date - 30 March

I cannot wait to see this movie. It’s a mash-up of futuristic virtual reality game play and the best bits of the 80’s.

Based on the best-selling novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is set in 2045 and follows a young man as he battles his way through a virtual reality game in search of a digital Easter egg that the trillionaire creator has hidden somewhere in the ‘OASIS’.

If you like retro, then you’re going to love this one. Old school computer game characters and a soundtrack from the best decade ever has set this one up to be one of the best films of 2018.


Karen’s pick

Ocean's 8

Release date - 22 June

I was a big fan of the original Oceans movies (not just because of George Clooney), so I’m excited to see what an all-female cast can bring to the table with this one.

Following a similar storyline to the original films, Sandra Bullock enlists the help of 7 other criminal masterminds to help pull-off the heist of the century to steal a $150,000,000 diamond necklace during a huge fashion event in New York.

I love Sandra Bullock, and I really enjoyed the all-female remake of Ghostbusters, so I’m expecting big things from this one.


Dan’s pick

Incredibles 2

Release date - 13 July

I thought that the first Incredibles movie was the most incredible movie of all time (pun intended). It had everything. Action, humour, love and explosions! What’s not to like? But the last film ended with the emergence of the ‘Underminers’, which left us (well, certainly me) wondering what will happen next.

So the second instalment will pick up where the other one left off, following the heroic family in the battle against evil. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how Mr Incredible will get on as a stay-at-home dad, trying to figure out how he can keep a lid on Jack-Jack’s newly discovered powers!

Sure to be one of the feel-good films of the summer – I’ll certainly be dashing to see it (last pun, I promise).


…And one that we’re all excited for:

Avengers: Infinity War

Release date - 27 April

It feels like we’ve been waiting an age for the third Avengers film. The Marvel Universe has kept us ticking over with a few character movies – but there is just something about getting the squad back together that gives us a few goose bumps.

So the Infinity War is set to kick-off big time in the first of two parts. Thanos finally arrives on Earth to claim the six Infinity Stones and take over the cosmos. The Avengers must put their Civil War differences aside, and come together to stop him.

Non-stop action, with a sprinkling of humour, will make this film unmissable.


Want to get your hands on 2-4-1 vouchers?

Thanks to Meerkat Movies, you can get 2 for 1 cinema tickets on a Tuesday and Wednesday, any week, for a whole year. Just make a qualifying purchase on (we recommend travel insurance because it is the cheapest!), and you’re trip to the cinema will be half the price (providing you take a friend)!

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