Colin MacKay, new chairman of Scotland's UHI Millennium Institute, believes it could be a prototype for the tertiary institutions of the future. The project, which won higher education institution status earlier this year, is a high-tech federation of further education colleges and research institutes in the Highlands and Islands.
Mr MacKay, previously president of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, said it would be a university built on colleges, with an element of further as well as higher education.
It has already caught the attention of the Scottish Parliament's enterprise and lifelong learning committee. Committee member Bill Butler said: "It was made clear that the further education-higher education divide is outdated, artificial and largely irrelevant to modern society. We need to consider the divide and whether it can be updated to meet the needs and demands of present-day Scotland."
The National Union of Students Scotland has warned of a dangerous and "arbitrary" divide between further and higher education. It said nearly a third of Scottish students studied in further education colleges, but were subject to a different quality assessment system and funding regime.