A new computer network facilitating rapid communication between eight university institutions in South Wales is being completed this summer.
The system will link the University of Wales's five campuses in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport with the University of Glamorgan, Swansea Institute of Higher Education and the Welsh College of Music and Drama.
"It will extend videoconferencing and simplify electronic mail transmission between participating institutions," according to John Martin, director of computing at the University of Wales in Cardiff.
"It is also likely to promote collaborative teaching between colleges, and have an impact on distance learning methods.
"The College of Music and Drama is considering running remote master classes via the system. The University of Wales College of Medicine is hoping to transmit detailed anatomical images and data obtained from the American Visible Human programme."
Campus libraries are similarly expected to use the system to transmit documents, while students abroad on placements will be able to keep in touch with their home institutions.
The Pounds 800,000 system is being installed by computer company Chernikeeff with American cable company CableTel providing the optic fibre link between the institutions. Covering more than 80 kilometres between Newport and Swansea, it is one of the largest university system of its kinds in the UK.
The project is financed by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales; the funding council's Joint Information Systems Committee and the universities.
It is expected to make a major impact on university life, particularly as email is expanding greatly. Two years ago academic staff at the University of Wales Cardiff sent 200,000 messages a month. This year they are sending 800,000 every month.