A CAMPAIGN to save an acclaimed restaurant has not convinced university bosses to keep it open.

Oxford Brookes Restaurant in Headington will close this academic year, the university has confirmed, and a date has been provisionally set for May 1.

Consultation on the closure prompted outcry from hundreds of people, including respected figures in the catering and hospitality industry.

The restaurant boasts a five-star rating and certificate of excellence on Tripadvisor, and is open to the public for lunch on weekdays.

Situated at Brookes's Gipsy Lane campus, it has provided hospitality students with the chance to refine their skills in the kitchen and front of house.

The university said the decision to close, which was announced to staff and students yesterday, came after 'careful consideration.'

READ AGAIN: Petition against the closure of Brookes Restaurant

It said in a statement: "Brookes Restaurant has maintained an excellent reputation over a number of years, reflecting the quality of its service.

"However, despite a number of initiatives over the past decade, the restaurant has consistently made a significant annual operating loss."

It revealed that in the last four academic years, the restaurant has lost an average of £280,000 per year.

The university added: "Staff affected by the decision will continue to be fully supported, including exploring opportunities for alternative employment within the university.

"We remain committed to providing world class education which prepares students for successful careers in the international hospitality industry."

A petition set up to save Brookes Restaurant received 1,359 signatures, and was backed by many students, professors and Oxford residents.

Among them were the university's former vice-chancellor Sir Clive Booth, who hailed the restaurant 'a jewel in the crown' of the university and a 'great educational asset.'

ALSO READ: Staff oppose closure plan for Oxford Brookes restaurant

Former Oxford City Council leader Bob Price also put his name to the petition, and said closure would be 'an act of vandalism.'

Celebrity cook Sophie Grigson, also commenting on the petition, said closure would be 'shameful.'

The Oxford-based food writer added: "So much money has been spent on primping the campus up, yet an essential and exceptional educational facility, that benefits not only students but the rest of Oxford, is not important?"

As well as the petition, dozens of industry leaders and hospitality professors signed an open letter to the vice chancellor, penned by the Council for Hospitality Management Education (CHME).

The letter acknowledges that the higher education sector is facing a 'perfect storm' of pressures, but that cuts have 'disproportionately' affected hospitality programmes.

An extract read: "Brookes Restaurant has received many accolades over the years and is well respected by the local community in Oxford and by industry and academia both nationally and internationally.

"CHME urge you to explore alternative business models that would sustain its operation and permit it to continue to deliver an excellent learning experience for students."

ALSO READ: Fellows and alumni oppose closure plan at Brookes Restaurant

The university's statement recognised that members of the public will be 'saddened' by the announcement, but added: "The university ultimately has a duty to ensure that all of its activities are financially viable."

It clarified that the university's catering courses are not taught at undergraduate or postgraduate level, and that the undergraduate hospitality management students already undertake placements in industry outside of the university during second year.

It said: "Only four of the course’s 24 modules are directly associated with Brookes Restaurant and work is under way to ensure that alternative measures are put in place.

"Our ambition is to develop and expand our programmes in hospitality management and associated areas."