Cornwall Councillors have put off making a decision on future student numbers in Falmouth as they continue to seek reassurances and new commitments from the universities.

Members of the council's strategic planning committee spent two hours listening to representations from residents, town and parish councillors and university representatives, and debating amongst themselves, before deciding to defer a vote on the matter.

The two reasons given for the deferral were to negotiate a higher ratio of purpose built student accommodation and to ask the university for more information about its future plans for the hub and rim model it proposes to follow.

Councillors heard the case from both universities and planning officer Peter Bainbridge that student numbers needed to increase to ensure viability of the hub and rim model - a main campus at Penryn with smaller sites around Cornwall.

As part of his motion for deferral, Councillor Robert Webber asked that the university provide more detailed information on how and where the rim part of the project would progress.

The committee was also told that the university had agreed to the provision of purpose built accommodation, either on campus or built by third parties, for 75 per cent of the new intake.

Peter Cox of Falmouth University said this would be part of a "stepped approach" which would only allow more students once there was accommodation available for them.

Mr Cox also said the university was aiming for 100 per cent of new students to be housed in purpose built accommodation, but picked the lower number as "not all students will want accommodation," including those from Cornwall choosing to live at home.

Councillor Webber said his deferral was based on two points: "Further information on purpose built accommodation figures to improve the situation in Falmouth," and information "from the universities in regards to their business plans for the rim and hub."

He said otherwise "we could be back here in four years time looking at 11,000 students across two campuses."

The application could be back before the committee by in time for its March meeting.

A spokesman for the Universities of Exeter and Falmouth said: "We are pleased councillors had such a constructive discussion, and recognise the positive impact of the University of Exeter and Falmouth University in Cornwall.

“We will work closely with Cornwall Council’s planning officers to ensure members have all the information they need, and to explain in greater detail the work undertaken by both Universities to increase access to higher education in Cornwall. We hope they will be able to make a decision at the earliest opportunity.  

“The Penryn Campus is world-renowned as a centre of teaching and research excellence, providing the platform for students to reach their full potential.  The application is part of the Universities of Falmouth and Exeter’s deep commitment to increasing access to Higher Education, as well as stimulating economic growth, raising aspirations and providing new and innovative opportunities for our local communities.”