Cornwall could be the site of a unique high-tech "network" university, according to Sir Geoffrey Holland, vice chancellor of Exeter University.
A task force of educationists, local authority officials and business leaders, set up by Sir Geoffrey to investigate the potential for fresh higher education partnerships, has uncovered wide support for the establishment of a major institution in Cornwall to fill gaps in provision.
Exeter intends to build on this by pressing for a staged development of a University in Cornwall between now and the end of the decade, Sir Geoffrey told members of the Workers' Educational Association meeting at Truro College.
The institution would have a small central campus, with other colleges throughout the county working in partnership to provide seminars, tutorials, student support groups and specialist teaching facilities.
It would also employ the latest information and learning technologies to enable access from any part of the county and from the homes of students if they were unable to travel or could not afford to live away. Existing further education institutions and possibly the Open University would be part of the consortium or network, which would also involve close collaboration with the business community.
Local authorities would help provide facilities, perhaps through schools in the county, for distance-learning opportunities.
"A university here in Cornwall is seen as providing what one of those consulted (by the task force) described as 'a brain for the Cornish economy'. It would help to develop product ideas, develop a high level of skill lacking at the moment in the generality of the workforce, help firms to keep in touch with what is happening elsewhere," Sir Geoffrey said.
European funding and economic development money could be used to cover the capital costs of setting up the new university. And there were signs that the Government might be persuaded to cover the running costs.