Possible shock plans to “wind down” Scarborough Campus could have a crippling impact on the town’s economy.
That is the feeling shared by traders and councillors following a Scarborough News revelation that Hull University is reviewing the future of the Filey Road site.
A senior student figure has admitted that his peers have been left “confused and panicked” over the future of the college.
A confidential source at the university claims that campus is being “wound down” and that staff fear their jobs could possibly be moved to Hull - along with key courses such as business studies.
It’s also claimed that two halls are “nearly completely empty” on the campus, which is home to approximately 2,500 students, thus creating a cash shortfall.
Hull University has declined to respond in full, only saying that a review is being held on every aspect of the campus – despite major recent investments, including the IT infrastructure and on the halls.
Business owner and councillor Janet Jefferson said: “It’s frightening just how important the university is to this town. It would be a total disaster if it did leave the town, as it’s proved to be so important for Scarborough.
“The university is essential in all aspects of the economy – you just have to look at the art, culture and night time economy to see what they bring to Scarborough.”
She also suggests it could cause problems for student landlords as well as the council, as with so many properties available just for term time.
Figures published on the University of Hull website show that approximately 11 per cent of all pupils studying there are based on the Scarborough Campus.
Some of the students are now campaigning over the future of their campus. In a public blog post, vice-president of the Student Union Tom Swainson admitted the future of the site was a “hot topic” on campus, especially after the popular and highly-regarded music and theatre courses were transferred to Hull.
Now a “Future of Scarborough?“ campaign has been launched by students.
“Now in full swing, this campaign aims to lobby the university over the future of the campus, conveying all the issues raised by our engagement with students,” said Tom.
Business student Megan Thomason, 21, added: “It would be such a shame, as it is a great campus.
“Everyone knows everyone, and it would be hard to leave behind, especially as I don’t think anybody would be happy to go to Hull.”
The third year student added: “I think Scarborough would really suffer economically, especially the bars.”
One of those places she identified was Blue Lounge, which has a popular midweek student night. Boss Grant Dexter said: “It certainly wouldn’t be a great thing for the town.”
Traders in South Cliff, where a large portion of the students also live, say they would feel the pinch if there was an overhaul at the uni with one fearing some may be forced to pack up and move.
“Some of the shops could have to move out,” warned Jill Heaps, who has been at the helm of the Lufin Cafe for three months.
“The students have a great impact on the area, and it would be a great shame for them to go, especially as Scarborough has much to offer them.
“There are so many people around here who rely on the students.”
The University of Hull say that while it’s carrying out a review, it is “committed” to ensuring there is some form of higher education in Scarborough.
A spokesperson for Hull University said: “In striving for academic excellence the University of Hull is continuously reviewing all of its academic endeavours, whether on the institutional, faculty or campus level.
“Its strategies are continually developed, within the context of a fast-changing and increasingly competitive external environment.
“This includes reviewing the multi-campus strategy and our offer of academic programmes, be they in Hull, elsewhere in the UK, globally, in the virtual environment, and of course in Scarborough.
“We will continue to review which programmes work best on which campus.
“As per the university’s practice, appropriate consultation about any proposed changes will take place with interested parties at the earliest opportunity when the university has assessed options.
“The university remains committed to ensuring that Scarborough continues to have higher education provision.”