Students and staff have been left “devastated” after the decision was made to close a college’s performing arts department.

Worthing College said it is axing the department due to low student numbers and rising costs.

From September 2024 the provision is being consolidated with Northbrook College, in Broadwater, which is three miles away from Worthing College.

Helena Thomas, principal of Worthing College and Northbrook College Principal, said current students will complete their second year “as planned” and that there will be no redundancies made.

But students, staff and alumni have expressed their fury at the move as well as how the situation has been handled with many saying prospective students were only told last week.

A campaign has been set up to save the department which has so far gained more than 2,000 signatures.

A current year 11 student who was due to attend the college in the autumn, spoke of her anger.

She says she has been unable to find another college that offers the same course she wanted to study.

“Not only am I disappointed but also upset in how the situation was handled,” she said.

“Why accept students and advertise the performing arts when the courses were ultimately going to be withdrawn?

“False hope was made and expectations were set which led to disappointment and anger in not just my year but in the years below me.

“Year 11 students that were accepted to study the performing arts received the email explaining how there would no longer be this opportunity a mere week before our GCSE exams start.


“Already we are at a time when our stress has reached new levels but now, we have to rethink what we are going to do for our post 16 education.”

Eve Bond, a former performing arts student at the college, said the department had received its “highest numbers of students yet” and that Northbrook “does not have the space or facilities to take on this many prospective students”.

Another former performing arts student at the college said the move to Northbrook College would see students miss out on extracurricular activities, as well as the option to study arts courses alongside other A-Level subjects.

“Worthing offers the opportunity to study performing arts alongside another A-Level subject, an opportunity inaccessible elsewhere, which continues to bring the college its applicants,” Lauri House said.

“The department had a 100 per cent pass rate last year too, demonstrating how successful these courses and their teachers are.”

Ms Thomas apologised for the concern the move has caused.

“By consolidating our performing arts provision with Northbrook College – just three miles away and with very good public transport links - we believe we will be able to provide a better student experience,” she said.

“The performing arts facilities at Northbrook College are outstanding and include large studios, a fully-functioning 150-seat theatre and state-of-the-art music studios.

“We review our provision throughout the year, closely monitoring applications and interest but it is at this time of year where we are in a position to finalise our courses and their viability.”

Andrew Green, chief executive of Chichester College Group, which includes Worthing and Northbrook Colleges, said “severe” government underfunding meant the college could not keep up with rising costs.

“At CCG alone we will see an increase in costs of just under £3million for the 2023/24 year – that includes a £1.2million increase in energy prices as well as higher costs of supplies and services,” he said.

“Department budgets across the sector are reducing because of this, and it means we have to make decisions that protect our staff while offering students the opportunity to study high-quality courses that meet their needs, as well as those of industry.”