Queen's University, Belfast, has edged ahead in the race with Ulster's other university to capitalise on the momentum of the peace process.
Its plans for a massive research and enterprise park in the centre of Belfast have been endorsed by the site owners, the city council.
Although it will be another two months before a final decision is made, it seems likely Queen's has stolen a march on the University of Ulster's ambitious plans for a campus straddling the peaceline in West Belfast. Originally intended to form a centrepiece of President Clinton's visit to the province, the Springvale project was not mentioned during the trip last week.
The park, to be based at the city's former gasworks, will create new employment and develop Queen's strengths in information and communication technology, for which it was recently awarded the top grade in the research assessment conducted for all United Kingdom universities.
Project committee chairman Professor Sean Fulton said: "It will have a major impact on the social and economic development of an inner city area with a mixed population as well as creating jobs and helping advance economic development."
Queen's vice chancellor Sir Gordon Beveridge said: "Clearly it is of personal significance to President Clinton and is an imaginative step to assist the peace process which is so close to his heart. We have had many historic moments in this our 150th anniversary year and this is one of the most memorable."