Bolton Institute has won backing for its campaign for university status from 120 vice-chancellors, external examiners, moderators and visiting professors.
They have urged David Blunkett, secretary of state for education and employment, and the Privy Council to approve Bolton's application for the title, despite advice from the Quality Assurance Agency that it has failed to make the grade.
Signatories to the campaign, whose names are published in this week's THES (see page 7), include John Stoddart, Sheffield Hallam University vice-chancellor and former Higher Education Quality Council chairman. But the majority are external examiners, who will have a key role to play in the QAA's proposed new quality assurance system for higher education.
Their backing adds weight to a 4,000-signature petition handed to lifelong learning minister Kim Howells by Bolton students.
The level of support has raised further questions over the QAA's decision to overrule its degree- awarding powers committee's recommendation that Bolton should be awarded university status. Five members of the committee resigned over the issue.
Bob Oxtoby, Bolton's principal, said: "The intention of our campaign is to let the secretary of state know we have a good deal of support. But it is impossible to do that without contradicting the QAA's advice."
Professor Oxtoby said the secretary of state had indicated he would not make a recommendation to the Privy Council until he had met with Bolton representatives to consider their case.