An international consortium of universities is being sought to control and run a new Pounds 10 million marine studies institute on the tiny Channel Island of Alderney.
The institute, which will be a specialist centre for marine biology and marine archaeology, is expected to open in October 1997.
It will be built by ASM Properties, a Bristol-based construction firm which won the Royal Institute of British Architects international competition to redevelop the derelict Fort Tourgis. The fort was erected by Queen Victoria to oppose the threat of Napoleon III's military and naval operations. The funding for the project is coming from NSW Bank, a subsidiary of the Bank of Scotland.
Chris Fitton, ASM Properties' special projects director responsible for the Fort Tourgis Marine Studies Centre, said that he will be approaching UK and overseas universities. He hopes that the consortium will comprise six universities, possibly including two which do not yet have marine studies departments.
British universities which have expressed an interest include Bangor, Oxford, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton and the Open University. International interest has come from Cape Town in South Africa, Calgary in Canada and Haifa in Israel.
The finished institute will include a conservation museum which will house the wreck of the Elizabethan galleyship Makeshift.
Mr Fitton said the institute would be "a centre of excellence for students working towards their second degree and for developing technology links with industry". Fourth-year undergraduates might be able to participate in research-intensive study.