UNIVERSITY chiefs are to suspend recruitment to English and history courses based at Caerleon this year due to the low number of people signing up.

Following accusations by a Newport church leader that the courses were being axed, a spokeswoman for the University of South Wales revealed that the decision to suspend recruitment to the two courses had been based on applicant numbers and the desire to provide "a high quality student experience".

She did not comment on claims that education and sports courses were following suit, but said that new psychology courses at Caerleon have been introduced to attract more students.

She said: "For courses to provide the best experience for students, cohorts need to be more substantial than the numbers that have applied for 2014 entry [to English and history].

"The decision to suspend is therefore part of normal university business which regularly sees it open new courses and close others to reflect changing patterns of student demand.

"Students already studying on these courses at Caerleon will be able to continue their studies at their existing campus."

Newport church leader, and prospective Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Paul Halliday, told the Argus today that he has written to education minister Huw Lewis and the chairman of the university's board of governors, Andrew Wilkinson, over reports he says he's received from students that courses were being taken away from Caerleon, and that the campus was being "closed by stealth".

In response the university's spokeswoman said their "commitment to a sustainable university in Newport is absolutely unchanged" but said the university's estate is being assessed.

She said: "We recognise its importance to the regeneration of the city and the future of the region, and we see the university as a huge part of that.

"In common with the whole higher education sector, the university operates in a hugely competitive market, but no decisions have been taken on the university estate in the long term, and we are now carefully assessing, from the evidence, what the future shape of that estate should be."