Glasgow and Paisley universities have established a link to create a "hub of learning" in Dumfries using Pounds 1.8 million from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council's strategic change grant, writes Olga Wojtas.
The two universities already work closely with Dumfries and Galloway College. Since 1994, college students have been able to go on to a Paisley degree.
From September, Glasgow will give them fast-track access to a BA course.
The universities have been establishing themselves on the site of a former psychiatric hospital on the Crichton estate, and forming a joint higher education framework will avoid duplication of effort.
Academic developments will be complementary, they say. Glasgow will concentrate on arts and humanities courses while Paisley will offer business, computing and social sciences.
Rex Taylor, director of Glasgow's Crichton College, said: "This will mean a speedier build-up of higher education opportunities than would have been possible if only a single institution were involved. It is also good news for higher education in the country as a whole because the Glasgow-Paisley partnership introduces a novel form of joint working that is likely to commend itself to other institutions."
By 2002, the two institutions aim to have 550 full-time students and to have increased part-time attendance.