Animal testing at the University of Brighton has increased five-fold in three years.

New figures show that 940 animals were used in experiments at the university in 2013.

In total 858 mice were used in research by the university last year – compared to 178 mice in 2011 and a further 342 in 2010.

Animal rights campaigners condemned the university as “inhumane” and “macabre”.

However, the university defended the use of mice in research projects into treatments for chronic illnesses and childhood diseases.

The university said researchers stuck to strict guidelines to ensure animals used were killed quickly and painlessly.

The Anti-Vivisection Coalition (AVC) – which represents the interests of animals in laboratories – obtained figures under the Freedom of Information Act showing that 858 mice, 24 rats, 47 guinea pigs and 11 urban foxes were involved in research at the university last year.

The foxes were part of a study for Autumn Watch and not harmed.

Sophie Kennerley, director of communications, for AVC said: “It is unacceptable that the numbers of animals used in experiments by Brighton University has increased by more than 500% since 2011.

“Such macabre practices are not reflective of a civilised society where animals merit respect. AVC call on Brighton University to take replace animal experiments with humane alternatives.”

A university spokeswoman said: “The university uses a minimum number of mice to support research into chronic illnesses and to assist in the development of effective treatments for such conditions as dementia, kidney disease and childhood disease.

“All our research is conducted under strict Home Office guidelines and in certified facilities which provide the highest quality of animal care.

“There is annual fluctuation in the number of mice we use and we always seek to keep them to a minimum."

Earlier this month a study found that an increasing proportion of people – particularly young adults and women – were against animals being using in medical testing.

The poll by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) found 54% of under-30s against it now – a 23% rise compared with what people thought in 2001.