Dorset Could Get New University

Ten specialist colleges are set to become universities under the biggest expansion of higher education for 20 years.

The list includes The Arts University College at Bournemouth.

Universities Minister and Havant MP David Willetts is expected to recommend to the Privy Council that the institutions have met the criteria to be awarded the title of university.

The move is the biggest creation of universities since 1992, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said.

It comes after the government lowered the threshold on student numbers needed for an institution to apply for the title.

Institutions can now apply if they have 1,000 students, and of those, 750 are studying for a degree.

Previously, they needed  at least 4,000 students, and of those, at least 3,000 studying for a degree.

Mr Willetts said: ''These well-known and highly-regarded university colleges represent over 1,200 years of history between them. It is right to remove the barriers preventing high-quality higher education providers like these calling themselves universities simply because of their size.

I am delighted that they have taken up the opportunity offered by our reforms. This will lead to the biggest creation of universities since 1992 and will enable more people to realise their aspiration of going to a university.''

The institutions being put forward to the Privy Council for approval are: The Arts University College at Bournemouth, Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, Harper Adams University College, Leeds Trinity University College, Newman University College, Birmingham, Norwich University College of the Arts, Royal Agricultural College, University College Birmingham, University College Falmouth and University College Plymouth St Mark & St John.