An Inverness economic consultant has come under fire for dismissing the University of the Highlands and Islands project as "third rate".
Tony Mackay wrote in the latest Mackay Consultants' monthly economic report for the Highlands and Islands, that if it went ahead as planned, "we shall end up with a third-rate university, staffed by third-rate academics, which will struggle to attract students of the number and quality desired".
The plans for a high-tech federal campus linking further education colleges and research institutes have won Pounds 34 million from the Millennium Commission.
The brightest children from the area will continue to choose to go to Aberdeen, Glasgow and other universities, he said.
A project spokesman said: "Tony Mackay operates as an economist and knows as much about education as the next individual."
Ray Harris, depute principal of Perth College, the southernmost partner in the UHI network, said it contained a wealth of talent and Mr Mackay's comments were "premature, ill-advised and elitist".
Peter Peacock, convener of the Highland Council, said: "Tony Mackay continues to stand in splendid isolation in criticising this innovative project.