Kingston University has succeeded in winning a contract of almost double the normal length with the National Health Service for its new nurse training department.
University spokesmen say that the contract, with South Thames Medical School, will run for five years and eight months rather than the Government recommended three years. Negotiations have been in progress for three years.
They admit that the contract was the result of a "hardnosed" approach by the university which, like many other institutions, fears that three-year contracts offer too little security.
Mike Pittilo, dean of the faculty of healthcare sciences, said: "On a number of occasions we were on the verge of walking away from the negotiations but throughout we have been quite hardnosed about it and, as a result, have won a better deal than any other institution in terms of guaranteeing security."
Mr Pittilo explained that the university was determined to secure more than the standard three-year contract because it is spending Pounds 14 million on a new building, due to open at the Kingston Hill site in October 1997, as well as taking on another 80 academic and 30 administrative staff.
He said: "It certainly would not have been appropriate to make this investment in staff and infrastructure on the strength of a three-year contract."
The deal is also unique in that it is the first to be signed between a new university and a traditional university, in this case, St George's Medical School, Tooting, which is a part of the University of London.
Diplomas in Higher Education will be on offer to some 200 trainee nurses and 30 pre-registration midwives. In addition the university is offering degrees in radiography to some 30 students.
The new qualifications are part of the on-going drive to make nursing qualifications more academic in recognition of their existing expertise and growing responsibility within modern healthcare.