Falmouth University has denied that it is closing one of its longest running arts courses despite suspending recruitment for 2017 and opening a consultation on its future.

Last week the university announced to students and staff that it would be opening a consultation on the future of the Foundation Diploma in Art & Design due to its financial viability.

Closure would spell the end of one of the original courses offered by Falmouth College of Arts in the 1960s, with staff threatened with redeployment or redundancy. It will also affect potentially hundreds of students who have already applied for the course and will now find out their effort was for nothing.

But Robert Hillier, Falmouth University's head of communication, insisted to the Packet that the course had not been closed, but had just had recruitment for 2017 suspended while consultations are held about its future.

At the same time, sources close to the course have questioned the university's "official line" that the course could reopen, as there had not been any conversation on how to address its lack of income.

They have also said it is unlikely that the university will retain them for a year without a course to teach, and there are fears over redeployment or redundancy.

Mr Hillier said: "The decision to suspend recruitment for foundation has been taken following a detailed analysis of the course and both its immediate and long-term requirement for investment from other parts of the university. This is increasingly relevant with the growing financial investment students make in their education."

Former foundation student Lily M has started a petition asking university vice chancellor Anne Carlisle to keep the course going, which gathered more than 2,500 votes in the first day.

She wrote: "Education in the arts is becoming increasingly downtrodden, it is the closure of essential courses like foundations that are worth an urgent fight."

The open consultation with staff will end on November 24, and a decision on whether the course will be permanently closed or reopen for 2018 will be taken in May 2017.

The petition can be found at change.org/p/save-falmouth-foundation-protect-the-future-of-the-arts

For the full story read the Falmouth Packet tomorrow morning.