Michael Forsyth, Secretary of State for Scotland, is providing tangible support for the University of the Highlands and Islands project with a Pounds 500,000 grant for videoconferencing links.
The Scottish Office had been lukewarm about the proposals for a high-tech federal campus linking the region's further education colleges, but earlier this year Mr Forsyth declared his commitment to the university, and has now produced hard cash to back it.
"My vision is for this to be a university of the next century, with an emphasis on the use of new information and communications technology," he said.
The grant would help bring this closer by equipping the colleges in the network with state-of-the-art videoconferencing links, tapping into the existing high quality telecommunications system, said Mr Forsyth.
The links will be tied into a control unit in the UHI project office in Inverness, and priority will be given to colleges involved in degree courses. Mobile video-conferencing units will be provided for other sites.
Ray Murray, convener of the project's academic council and principal of Thurso College, called Mr Forsyth's support "heartwarming" and said it would massively benefit tertiary education in the far north of Scotland.
The new facilities were crucial if colleges were to deliver the broad spectrum of education required locally, and to seek out other markets, particularly in Europe.
The funding has come from Mr Forsyth's Scottish block funding rather than from the further education budget.