STAFFORD could lose thousands of students under a major review which could see Staffordshire University close its town campus.University staff have been asked for their views on the two main options for its future - keeping two campuses or moving everything to Stoke.
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy has pledged to fight "tooth and nail" to keep the campus in Stafford.
The recession, falling student num- bers in the wake of higher fees, and government demands have all been blamed for the review. One lecturer says the town would become a ghost town if the campus, which provides courses in nursing, IT and sciences, closes.
Michael Gunn, the university's vice chancellor told staff investment was available but it was not unlimited.
In an email to staff he said: "Historically, we have always been based at our two main campuses in Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent," he said.
"This is one option for the future. There are also good financial argu- ments for doing as other institutions, have done and consolidating our long-term investments in a single, expanded campus in Stoke-on-Trent.
“Before we commit significant sums to new investment, we need, to con- sider carefully how any money should best be spent. There is money avail- able for investment but it is not unlimited.
“Both of our main campuses are in need of refurbishment, and the deci- sion we reach will have significant long-term implications on the oppor- tunities we are able to explore in the future."
Deputy vice chancellor Paul Richards admitted there could be job losses among the 455 staff if the campus were to close.
But he said: “It’s really, really early days yet. We are just at the options stage.”
One lecturer, who did not want to be named, said: "With all the empty stu- dent houses, the jobs being lost at the university and the students no longer shopping in the town it's hard to see how Stafford could avoid becoming a ghost town - about 3,000 students would disappear overnight."
Steve Burgin, chair of the board of governors, said: "At the moment dif- ferent options are being evaluated. My primary objective is to make sure we have an institution that's sustainable and has a future. Things like this won't happen overnight - we are setting out a long-term plan.”
Mr Lefroy said: "I will fight it tooth and nail. It's extremely important the campus remains in Stafford. I shall be making the strongest possible repre- sentations to the university that the two campus solution is both viable and in fact vital for them.
"I'm very concerned about this."