A LETTER signed by more than 300 people has accused a university of abandoning its students during the coronavirus crisis.

The University of Sussex announced this week that it would be suspending all teaching and continuing lessons online but disgruntled students say more must be done.

In an open letter to the institution’s vice chancellor Adam Tickell, hundreds said they “rejected the university’s move online”.

The letter stated: “While the suspension of face-to-face teaching is undoubtedly a necessity, online teaching serves as a poor substitute for a genuine university experience.”


It said students had already missed out on valuable teaching time following recent strike action over pensions, pay and working conditions led by the University and College Union.

The letter continued: “Though coronavirus is out of everybody’s control, it seems counter-intuitive after the insistence by many courses of the value of attendance and face-to-face meetings and the criticism of online learning, to move our degrees online.”

It said many students would have to move back to their homes, with many living overseas, as the threat of a national lockdown looms.

This, it claimed, would hamper students’ ability to complete assignments and dissertations as they will have their “access to facilities seriously impeded”.

The letter also argued that the possible ill health of the students and their relatives “fails to consider the potential mental and physical strain caused by the crisis”.

To counter this, it demanded that more options to be explored by the university.

These included extensions to deadlines, the option of re-taking some modules and the opportunity for some students to graduate with the grades they have earned up to this point.

A University of Sussex spokesman said: “Once the letter has been formally submitted to the university, we will take a detailed look and respond to our students.

“We understand that these are worrying times for everybody and we have acted quickly to safeguard our students and staff from this global pandemic.

“Staff from across the university have pulled together in an incredible way in the past few days and weeks and we are ready to deliver our teaching online from Monday. We understand that a number of questions remain and we would urge our students to bear with us as we continue to respond to this unprecedented situation.”