‘Huge disappointment’ as University Technical College announces closure

The University Technical College at Railway Quay, Newhaven. Photograph by Terry Applin
The University Technical College at Railway Quay, Newhaven. Photograph by Terry Applin

The University Technical College in Newhaven has announced it is to close – less than three years since its launch.

The decision, described as “hugely disappointing” by the Governors, was made bacuse of a shortage of the students needed to become financially stable.

It is understood there are fewer than 50 studying at the College, well below its capacity of 600.

The announcement comes just days before its first Ofsted inspection is due to be published.

Students due to join the UTC in September will be offered places in alternative schools. Existing pupils will be able to stay and finish their courses.

The UTC said in a statement: “This has been a very difficult and hugely disappointing decision for the Governors to make. They recognise that this announcement will cause concern to students, staff and parents.

“Their primary concern is the welfare and education of students currently attending the UTC and those who have applied to join from September, and the decision was taken at the earliest opportunity in the light of the upcoming summer break.

“The UTC is absolutely committed to ensuring that support is available to current and prospective students following this announcement and through to August 31 2019.”

It continued: “The college will remain open and fully committed to ensuring our current year 10 and 12 students successfully complete their courses in July 2019.

“Governors also recognise that this decision will cause concern for members of our staff team at the UTC. The management team, led by the acting principal Lisa Jepson, will be involved in on-going discussions with both teaching and support staff. Lisa Jepson is encouraging staff to contact their professional bodies and trades unions for advice and support.

“The Governors are deeply disappointed to announce the proposed closure of UTC@harbourside. Their hope is that a more successful future for the Harbourside building can be secured which will promote the very best educational opportunities for young people in the area and support the regeneration of Newhaven.”

A spokesperson for Lewes District Council said: “It is very disappointing that the ambitions for the UTC@harbourside have not been delivered and our thoughts are with the students, teaching andsupport staff at UTC who have been so badly impacted by this news.

“It is now essential that the students receive all the support they need to continue their studies. We will do all we can to support East Sussex County Council’s work to ensure students have alternative places to continue their studies.

“We will also work with our co-sponsors the Aldridge Multi Academy Trust, University of Brighton and Veolia to provide as much assistance as we can to the staff at UTC.

“The Newhaven Enterprise Zone remains a dynamic centre for commerce with compelling incentives for inward investment. With our partners we will continue to work with employers and education providers to maintain access to the skills that will fulfil its great potential.”

Local MP Maria Caulfield said: “It is disappointing that the decision has been made to not continue with the new intake of students for next September . This will come as a blow to both students and staff. However I am optimistic that the college does have a long term future.

“I am in discussions with the Dept for Education to change the UTC model to one predominantly focused post-16 education as this has been where both student and employer demand has been greatest. I am actively engaging with ministers to ensure that the decision today will not result in the long term closure of the college.

“UTC@harbourside is a beacon of hope, not just for the aspiring young people who were shaping their futures there, but also for the progress of regeneration in Newhaven.

“That work will go on, but now the partners must work to provide the students with a clear pathway for their on-going education and for members of staff at UTC, new opportunities for their on-going careers.

“I am in constant contact with all the key local decision makers and I will do everything I can to ensure the future of the college.”