Two traditional universities, four new universities and a further education college have won contracts to offer nursing and midwifery courses in Scotland.
Preregistration courses are currently taught in 12 colleges of nursing and midwifery run by the health boards. The Scottish Office announcement will bring nursing into mainstream tertiary education from next session.
The largest and smallest colleges, respectively Lothian College of Health Studies and the Scottish Borders College of Nursing, will amalgamate as a new faculty of Napier University from September 1996, bringing in an extra 2,000 students.
The colleges said the move acknowledged the reality that nursing and midwifery education provided intellectual as well as vocational training.
The Scottish Office wants expertise in the nursing colleges to be preserved. Institutions have had to produce proposals for employing existing nursing college staff and using their buildings and equipment.
Dundee University has won the contract for courses at Fife and Tayside colleges; Glasgow Caledonian University for Glasgow; Paisley University for Ayrshire and Arran, and Argyll and Clyde; the Robert Gordon University for Foresterhill in Aberdeen; Stirling University for Forth Valley and the Highlands and Western Isles; and Bell College of Technology for Lanarkshire, and Dumfries and Galloway.