Winchester University could grow by nearly 50 per cent its head told preservation watchdogs.

Prof Joy Carter, vice chancellor, said she could foresee the university which currently has some 7,000 students expanding to 10,000 in future years, an increase of 43 per cent.

Prof Carter was giving a presentation to the annual general meeting of the City of Winchester Trust attended by around 80 members.

She said: “Ten thousand is a number we would be pleased with. I don’t think the city would notice an extra 3,000 students.”

That claim surprised many in the audience and may well be disputed by many as the ‘studentification’ of former council estates such as Stanmore and Winnall has been controversial for several years.

Prof Carter, who was elected as the trust’s new president in place of Judge Christopher Clark QC, said the university was talking measures to reduce the scholars’ impact on the city.

She said: “We are building residences like crazy and getting more students onto the campus rather than in the city.”

The Queens Road residence opened in 2010 providing 400 bedrooms and Burma Road residence is partially completed. One block opened this summer for students.

Prof Carter added that the current economic climate, as well as the increase in tuition fees, was limiting any growth anyway. “The option for growth is not huge. The current government policy does not allow universities to grow as in the past. Most growth will be from international students. There are 50,000 fewer students in the country as a whole than last year.”