Mid-Cheshire College protested when it was informed that it could not use the local job centre to find models for its art students - but has been told that there will be no change of heart.
The Department for Work and Pensions said advertising the vacancies could lead to exploitation of the unemployed, who are obliged to accept jobs if they are considered "fit for the work offered". "We have to draw the line somewhere," said a spokeswoman. Life-drawing is compulsory on many art courses.
Other colleges are sympathetic to Mid-Cheshire's plight. "Good God," said Bill Parker, head of art and design at Keighley College, West Yorkshire. "That is the strangest thing I've heard for a long time."
We are lucky that we have a supply of very professional life models, but if they are all booked I don't see why I shouldn't be able to advertise through the job centre."
Reg Chapman, principal of Blackpool and the Fylde College, said: "There's nothing more fundamental than life-drawing. It's one thing to draw a bowl of apples and pears, but the human body is very difficult to do and I would support the need for life-drawing. But where we are supposed to get models is a good question."