University Campus Falmouth Cornwall
It has been claimed Falmouth University has exceeded its maximum allowable number of students this year but no action can be taken because of a pending planning application to increase it. Cornwall Council said the offers made to applicants would take numbers over the 5, 000 that the shared Penryn campus is allowed under planning rules.
Falmouth Town Council and Cornwall Council member David Saunby told members of the larger authority during a recent Cabinet meeting to discuss the creation of an action plan to manage any future growth of the universities: "I am very concerned. The cap has already been exceeded. They have more than 5, 000 students."
Councillor Edwina Hannaford, who has a responsibility for planning at Cornwall Council, confirmed this. "They have breached their cap by about 700 on offers, " she said.
Edwina Hannaford speaking about the universities at Penryn and Falmouth exceeding their student numbbers cap
"But they have said not everyone takes up that have been given an offer. The position we are in in terms of enforcement is that we cannot take enforcement action while the application is there."
Falmouth University chief executive Anne Carlisle
The application for the campus which is shared between Falmouth University and the University of Exeter is expected to be decided by the council's planning committee in November or December.
Mrs Hannaford said: "There is some outstanding work, reports and information that we are awaiting. However there are issues now, principally with the accommodation that needs addressing."
The universities have applied to raise the cap from 5, 000 to 7, 500 students but this has been opposed from many quarters because of the pressure already felt in Penryn and Falmouth regarding student accommodation.
Since the application was submitted several developers have come forward with large scale schemes for purpose-built student accommodation on various sites or the conversion of hotels and guest houses into houses of multiple occupancy.
Schemes are already with the planning department for the Ocean Bowl site in Falmouth, Quarry Car Park, Kernick in Penryn, as well as a student village at Treluswell for up to 2, 000 students and a park and ride.
The fields at Treluswell where there are plans being discussed for a student village
A spokesman for Falmouth University said it could not provide details regarding student numbers or confirm it was over the cap.
The spokesman added: "In line with the higher education sector, we do not return figures to the Higher Education Funding Council until December as our retention figure of 91/92% is primarily factored during the first semester.
"We do not collate detailed enrollment for internal use until the end of the second teaching week as there is a great deal of movement during this time."
Cornwall Council has approved a recommendation for the management of any future growth of the universities through the creation of an action plan, that expansion is phased with the provision of student accommodation to ensure the impact on the local housing market is minimised.
It also wants to work with the universities and partners to develop a masterplan for an option to extend the Penryn campus. This could provide additional education facilities, student accommodation and office space over nearly 30 acres off Treliever Road.