The University of Sussex is a British campus university which is situated next to the East Sussex village of Falmer, and is from Brighton. It is the only university in England to be located entirely within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, that of the South Downs.
The University of Sussex was the first of the new wave of British universities founded in the 1960s, receiving its Royal Charter in August 1961, and came to be identified not only with postwar social change, but a groundbreaking interdisciplinary approach, and later social engagement. The University is ranked within the top 30 in the UK, with The Guardian University Rankings of 2005 placing Sussex 16th, whilst the 2007 "Good University Guide" places Sussex in 27th position and the latest 2008 ranking sees Sussex move up to 24th. According to the 2008 Guardian University Rankings, Sussex has the number one ranked chemistry department among British universities, with its Professor Geoff Cloke recently being elected a Fellow of The Royal Society.
The University of Sussex initially began as an idea for the construction of a university to serve Brighton. In December 1911 there was a public meeting at the Royal Pavilion in order to discover ways in which to fund the construction of a university. However, the project was halted by the First World War and the money raised was instead used for books for the Municipal Technical College. However, the idea was revived in the 1950s, and in June 1958, the government approved the corporation's scheme for a university at Brighton, the first of a new generation of red brick universities. The University was established as a company in 1959, with a Royal Charter being granted on 16 August 1961.
Many of the universities founded in the 1960s take their name from the county in which they are located. The University of Sussex is unusual in that it is in the county of East Sussex and yet uses only the "Sussex" part of the name (alluding to the historic county of Sussex); there was no corresponding university in the county of West Sussex.
In 2004, the University started using a new corporate-style logo in place of its coat of arms. Former vice-chancellor, Professor Alasdair Smith, said: "Our new visual identity is the starting point for what will be a fresh look and feel for Sussex. It is based on the university's vision and values, themselves a statement of what it aspires to be: pioneering, creative, international, excellent, engaging and challenging". The new logo is also meant to reflect the large changes that are occurring at Sussex, such as the opening of the new Brighton and Sussex Medical School, new degree programmes, and the largest amount of building work on campus since the university opened. The University retains the right to resume use of its coat of arms.
The campus, designed by Sir Basil Spence, is located in the village of Falmer, next to its railway station, and accessed by car from the A27 road. It is situated next to the Sussex Downs, which influenced Sir Basil Spence's design of the campus. Many of the buildings on campus are designed to represent other objects. The Arts A building has a distinctive concrete entrance imitating a set of rugby union goalposts, the entire arts A building was made to represent a butterfly. Falmer House is shaped like a camera, with the two protruding concrete appendages representing the flash, and the cylindrical object to the left the flash. From an aerial view, the campus itself has the appearance of a sitting cat, which can be seen on copies of the campus map.
Sir Basil Spence's designs were appreciated in the architecture community, with many of the buildings on the University's campus winning awards. The gatehouse inspired Falmer House won a bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Another campus building, The Meeting House, won the Civic Trust award in 1969. In 1993, the buildings which made up the core of Sir Basil Spence's designs were given listed building status, with Falmer House being one of only two buildings to be given a Grade 1 status of "exceptional interest".
Another prominent building on campus, The Meeting House, caters for the religious needs of the student body; the construction of such a building was part of the initial plan for the University of Sussex, but was only possible due to a donation from both Sir and Lady Caffyn. Begun in 1965 and completed in 1966, the building is 80 feet in diameter and contains a seating area for 350 people.
The Gardner Arts Centre, another of Basil Spence's designs, was opened in 1969 as the first university campus arts centre. It had a 480 seat purpose built theatre, a visual art gallery and studio space and was regularly used for theatre and dance as well as showing a range of films on a modern cinema screen. Recently, it has been announced that the Centre will close in the summer of 2007: withdrawal of funding and the cost of renovating the building were given as the key reasons. There are currently no plans for the future use of the building.
In the early 1990s, the University promoted the system by claiming, "Clusters of faculty [come] together within schools to pursue new areas of intellectual enquiry. The schools also foster broader intellectual links. Physics with Management Studies, Science and Engineering with European Studies, Economics with Mathematics all reach beyond conventional Arts/Science divisions. By this time, the original schools had been developed somewhat and were:
The university has had seven Vice-Chancellors:
The early campus included five Park Houses (Essex, Kent, Lancaster, Norwich, and York, named after other 1960s universities) and Park Village. The "houses", of which all but Kent House were based on a courtyard design, feature several long corridors with kitchens and bathrooms at the end and a social space on the ground floor, very much in the manner of a traditional hall of residence. Park Village, by contrast, consists of individual houses with 4 bedrooms per floor, a kitchen on both the bottom and the top floor, and two shower rooms on the middle floor. The houses are arranged in "streets" with a social centre building towards the campus end of the area. Essex House also featured a self-contained flat which was given over to the Nightline confidential listening and advice service in 1992. During the late 1990s, Essex House and its flat were redeveloped into a postgraduate teaching facility. Kent House includes the Kulukundis House wing, developed with easy access for residents with special needs. Accommodation on campus was expanded in the 1970s with the construction of the unusual split-level flats of East Slope. This development also has a social building with a bar.
In the 1990s, as student numbers rose, further developments were constructed in the corner of campus between East Slope and Park Village. Brighthelm and Lewes Court were constructed in public-private partnership funding arrangements with the Bradford & Northern and Kelsey Housing Associations. The name "Brighthelm" owes its etymology to part of the former name of Brighton, Brighthelmstone, whilst Lewes Court is named after the nearby county town of Lewes.
There are presently five areas of student accommodation on campus. The university has recently constructed two more housing areas: one next to Falmer train station, and the other next to East Slope, opposite Bramber House. They are named Stanmer Court and Swanborough respectively.
The University competes in the following sports:Team sports: Basketball (men and women), cricket (men and women), football (men, 1st, 2nd and 3rd; women), (field) hockey (men and women, 1st and 2nd), netball (women, 1st and 2nd), rugby union (men and women, 1st and 2nd), ultimate frisbee and volleyball (men and women).Racquet sports: Badminton (men and women) and squash (men and women).Individual sports: Archery, fencing and trampolining Outdoor pursuits: sailing, mountain bike, mountaineering, Ski & Snowboard, sub aqua, surfing and windsurfing.Martial arts: Karate Jutsu, kickboxing, Shaolin Kung Fu, aikido and sport aikido.
Of the 10,500 students at Sussex, around a quarter are international.
Sussex has academic staff from over 50 countries and students from over 120 countries.
The University includes people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds and will respect the needs and requirements of people who adhere to a range of cultural and religious beliefs. There are several places for worship on campus.
Sussex was voted "Best Place to Be" in the autumn 2006 International Student Barometer of 40 leading UK Universities.
In 2006 Sussex University was Ranked 17th in UK, 43rd in Europe and 105th in the World
In respect of teaching quality, 13 of the 15 subjects assessed under the current teaching quality assessment scheme have scored 21 or more points (out of 24), with Philosophy and Sociology achieving the maximum score.
In 2006, Thomson Scientific ranked the University second in the United Kingdom in terms of research, based on the impact levels per paper, shortly behind the University of Oxford. The fields noted for the University were Physics and Space Science.