The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, Professor Julian Crampton said: “We are pleased to confirm that we have entered into negotiations to acquire the former Novartis site in Horsham. These discussions are at an early stage, but if the sale goes ahead, we plan to open an innovative, high-quality centre for higher education that will give a major boost to jobs, skills and business opportunities in the Gatwick Diamond area. We will be working closely with Horsham District Council and the Coast to Capital Local Economic Partnership, as well as local business, schools and colleges, to ensure our plans develop in a way that benefits the local economy and the local community.”
The University of Brighton is committed to raising educational standards in the communities it serves as can be seen in its innovative work in and around the Hastings and Rother in recent years.
According to statistics from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, participation in higher education in the Gatwick Diamond area is around 40 per cent, but there are significant education “cold spots” where just 20 per cent of people participate. If this project goes ahead, the university will work with businesses, schools and colleges in the area to increase the number of school leavers, and those currently in employment from all backgrounds who have the opportunity to progress to university and benefit from a high-quality higher education.
The University of Brighton has a distinctive geographic footprint across Sussex stretching from Hastings to Brighton. It has a longstanding interest in and commitment to the Gatwick Diamond area (dating back to 2007), where there is a lack of higher education provision; a large number of businesses and employees who could benefit from professional development and an airport that makes the area very attractive to international students.
This Novartis site in Horsham provides an excellent opportunity for the university to develop a more significant presence in the Gatwick Diamond. It also provides a very high quality location and facilities which the university will aim to exploit to support small business start-up and growth, particularly around biotechnology and biomedicine.
If the project goes ahead the centre could begin offering its first courses in Horsham from 2017.