By Daniel hunter

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts will recommend to the Privy Council that 10 higher education institutions have met the criteria to be awarded the title of university.

This will lead to the single biggest creation of universities since 1992. It follows the Government’s announcement in June that red tape barring some smaller institutions from being awarded the title of ‘university’ would be removed. Previously, institutions needed a minimum of 4,000 students to become a university. This has now been reduced to 1,000.

The applicants being put forward to the Privy Council for formal 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
- University College Plymouth St. Mark & St. John

“These well-known and highly-regarded university colleges represent over 1,200 years of history between them," Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said.

"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.”

Andy Westwood, Chief Executive of GuildHE, the organisation that represents the 10 institutions, said:

"The minister's recommendation that ten institutions have met the criteria to become universities recognises the quality, diversity and tradition that they bring to UK higher education.

“Smaller and specialist institutions are long established — in most cases for longer than many UK universities — and often lead the league tables in areas such as teaching and employability. They also have a strong reputation and impact in their localities and sectors — contributing to economic growth and to stronger, more vibrant communities. Gaining university title is long overdue and it helps to provide greater choice for students and for businesses, while enhancing the quality and diversity of the UK's higher education sector as a whole."

The decision to advise the Privy Council to grant the institutions university title was made after careful consideration of their applications and advice from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The Government first proposed reducing the minimum number of students necessary to obtain university title from 4,000 to 1,000 in the 2011 higher education white paper, Students at the heart of the system.

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