Kingston University has come under pressure from students and animal rights organisations to ban its use of real fur in fashion courses after a student union motion against the "cruel" practice was passed.

Business management student and US army veteran Simon Plazolles-Hayes led the successful motion at the student union on March 9.

The 23-year-old vegan slammed the practice, which sees animals like raccoons, minks and foxes slaughtered for their fur in fashion products.

He said: "Fur is an industry with no purpose other than cruelty. Animals are abused on farms and in the wild, for something so trivial as ending up as a key chain bauble or trim for a jacket.

"We as a society try to progress from the wrongs we committed in our past, and I think the ban is a great start.

"People don't need fur, and preventing students from using them encourages them to explore alternatives and try new things. It is more ethical, sustainable, and progressive."

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Simon Plazolles-Hayes speaking at the meeting at the union last month

Despite the union being able to reflect the student voice, steps to implement a ban require authorisation from the university, and will require discussions between both bodies before the use of real fur is prohibited.

A university spokeswoman said: "Kingston University’s position on the use of fur for educational purposes has not changed.

"At a recent Union of Kingston Students meeting, a motion was passed calling for a ban on the use of fur in student projects. As an independent body working for the students, the union will now support this motion in discussions with the University.

"Employability is a priority for Kingston University’s Fashion BA(Hons) students – experience of working with a variety of materials prepares them to work with a wide range of international fashion brands across the world.

"When working on creative projects, students are free to choose the materials they use."

But animal rights campaigners from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have put pressure on the university to follow through with the motion and ban the use of real fur.

According to the organisation, 85 per cent of the fur used in fashion is taken from animals in the fur farming industry, where they are confined to cramped, filthy cages before being drowned, beaten, strangled, electrocuted, or even skinned alive for fur coats, collars, and cuffs.

Elisa Allen, director of PETA UK, said: "Young people today have no interest in old-school cruelty like that involved in fur production, so Kingston University's Student Union is right to pass a motion banning fur from campus catwalks. 

"The university must now listen to its students, who are overwhelmingly opposed to tormenting animals for fashion, and make the resolution official.

"In doing so, they would join Parsons School of Design – one of the world's top fashion institutions – which shed its fur programme in favour of vegan fabrics that never bleed."

The charity has also teamed up with young designers, including Hannah Weiland of Shrimps, Faustine Steinmetz, Vika Gazinskaya, and Molly Goddard, to urge fashion students around the world to reject offers from fur companies that "push" pelts on students in exchange for sponsorship.

Mr Plazolles-Hayes said: "I am so glad that on March 9, students had their say and voted to ban fur from students projects at Kingston.

"We won that battle, but that is only halfway there.

"Now we have to work with the university so that we can honor the votes of students, and make fur history at Kingston and in the world."

To sign a campaign urging the university to drop the use of fur, click here.