LECTURERS at the University of South Wales are campaigning to save their foundation art and design course, due to be discontinued this summer.

Five members of staff at USW are being made redundant after the university decided to end the one-year course, which has no tuition fees.

Lecturers say the course gives art students from disadvantaged backgrounds and without formal qualifications access to a degree.

USW announced last September that its Caerleon campus was to close, with teaching to finish at the site in summer 2016.

Staff on the Foundation Art and Design course however were told not to recruit for the forthcoming academic year and that their jobs are to go this summer.

A USW spokesman said the university had undertaken a review of its courses and has decided to focus on higher education.

Lecturer in Fine Art, Edward Jeavons said: “The decision to close the course is not financial as the course has consistently recruited above the level of many other courses at the university.

“We have been told that the course does not fit with the university’s new 'core identity' as a solely Higher Education institution.

“It also aspires to be an international university but we’re concerned that this is at the expense of the local community, which is where most of our students come from.

“If we close, the nearest foundation art and design courses will be at Crosskeys and Cardiff. We believe that this is too far for many students from the Gwent area and that they will lose out on a fantastic opportunity to take a vital course.”

Staff are now planning action in a bid to keep foundation open.

“We are desperate to save this established course and inspire tomorrow’s artists and designers from the local area,” added Mr Jeavons.

“We are planning a protest and hope to hold talks with managers as soon as they can meet us.”

A USW spokesman said: “Foundation art and design is not a higher education course but a subject which is more commonly undertaken in further education colleges.

“As part of our strategic portfolio review the university has decided to focus the university’s provision at level four (higher education courses).

“The same course is also delivered locally by Coleg Gwent and indirectly the university’s withdrawal from this subject area will help secure the viability of foundation art and design in the region.

“This takes nothing away from the passion and dedication with which staff have delivered this course.

“We accept that this is disappointing news for them, but we will work with them to try and find an acceptable outcome at this difficult time.”

To support the campaign, visit the ‘Save Foundation Art Newport’ Facebook page.