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MPs write open letter objecting to closure of University for the Creative Arts in Rochester


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MPs have expressed their disappointment in an open letter to university bosses asking them to reconsider closing the campus.

It emerged earlier this week that the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), in Rochester, is planning to shut by September 2023.

University for the Creative Arts, Rochester, is set to close
University for the Creative Arts, Rochester, is set to close

KentOnline understands financial pressures are involved in the decision.

It is believed the site employs up to 100 staff members and has 1,000 students.

Now, the three MPs for Medway - Kelly Tolhurst, Rehman Chishti and Tracey Crouch - have joined forces to pen a letter to the president and vice chancellor of UCA, Professor Bashir Makhoul, to explain how important the campus is to the Medway Towns.

They also ask for the 'short sighted' decision to be reversed, and offer their help in keeping the site open.

The letter reads: "We are writing to express our deep sadness and concern regarding the decision to close the UCA campus in Rochester.

Kelly Tolhurst, Rehman Chishti and Tracey Crouch
Kelly Tolhurst, Rehman Chishti and Tracey Crouch

"As the three MPs for Medway, it is disappointing to have discovered that the campus has been earmarked fro closure via media and not directly from the university itself.

"We understand that the main reason for the closure is due to the significant repairs needed to the building and the lack of funds to carry out the work.

"However if the UCA had reached out to us sooner, we would have done everything possible to help secure the government funding and maintain this important facility.

"The campus is a fantastic local resource and it has a long and celebrated history of producing talented artists of all genres.

"A school for the arts has existed in Rochester continuously for more than 100 years and this will be a devastating blow to our cultural heritage and what Medway has to offer.

UCA chancellor emerita, Dame Zandra Rhodes
UCA chancellor emerita, Dame Zandra Rhodes

"Of course, this will be a very uncertain time for staff and students.

"As we merge out of the lockdown, we feel it is a short sighted decision to close this campus when we should be encouraging artists more than ever to showcase their work and bolster the economy in the wake of the pandemic.

"We hope you will reconsider these plans, and please do not hesitate to get in contact if there is any help that we can provided."

Fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes, who is from Chatham and is an alumni and Chancellor Emirata of UCA, has also spoken out against the plans for the campus to shut.

She said: ""It's bad news on the City of Culture front but it would be nice if they could consolidate and consider whether to cut down on one of the other colleges.

"It's sad to think of that whole thing closing down and poor old Medway being the one that suffers."

As well as Dame Zandra, the college boasts the likes of Karen Millen OBE and Tracey Emin as alumni along with renowned jeweller Stephen Webster MBE and fashion designer Wendy Dagworthy.

To read about the history of the university, click here.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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