The new chairman of the University for the Highlands and Islands academic council believes high-tech links between all the colleges in the project could be in place by the end of this year.
Mick Roebuck, principal of Lews Castle College, Stornoway, who has just taken up the one-year appointment, said he hoped all the colleges would be able to offer courses via a network to students throughout the region.
"We still have to decide on exactly what technological route to go down," Mr Roebuck said. "Options range from a video conferencing-based system to fully-equipped multimedia classrooms."
The project involves 12 colleges and research institutions, supported by local authorities, in particular Highland Regional Council, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Mr Roebuck said courses should develop to degree level over the next year.
"We already have four courses, in business studies, environmental studies, arts and social science and rural development being prepared for validation, and I hope these can be endorsed and go into the curriculum next year."