The sale of a farm belonging to the University of Central Lancashire, which has been used to teach agricultural students for decades, has been put on hold after criticism from the NFU.

The university has decided to delay the sale of 235-acre Sewborwens Farm opposite its Penrith campus after it was accused of “asset-stripping” by the local farming community.

Nick Utting, NFU North Cumbria secretary, said he was “very concerned” to hear of the university’s proposal to have the farm valued with a view to selling it.

“We are facing an uncertain future within our industry and there are possibly fewer students moving into this sector, but Cumbria still has a strong and enthusiastic farming population and this lack of confidence shown by UCLan sends the wrong messages to our farmers of the future,” he said.

After the sale was announced, a spokesman for UCLan said it made sense to return the farm to the local farming community from where it came and that cash from the sale would be reinvested in the university’s two Cumbrian campuses.