Higher education in Cornwall has received a boost after the government pledged £19 million to the Combined Universities in Cornwall project.
The scheme, run jointly by Exeter and Plymouth universities along with Falmouth College of Arts, the College of St Mark and St John, further education colleges and the Open University, has a total of £29.7 million to match European Structural Funding. Phase one of the project will cost £54.7 million.
"Setting up new higher education provision in Cornwall will benefit local people and local businesses," said education secretary David Blunkett when he announced the funding.
A hub campus will be developed at Tremough, near Falmouth, which will be linked to other institutions, including local further education colleges. Degree-level study and research will be based at Falmouth. Colleges will provide vocational study.
Gordon Kelly, the coordinator of the Combined Universities in Cornwall, said that by 2006-07 there should be about 7,500 students in the county. There are currently about 4,000.
The new teaching provision will focus on areas with relevance to the area, such as design and media, building on the county's reputation as a haven for the arts.
The project is run by a steering group including representatives from the education partners as well as from the county council and regional development agency.
Mr Kelly said: "The long-term aim is to have an individual university established here."