Four higher education colleges are on the home straight to gaining university status following news that University College Winchester has succeeded in its bid to become the University of Winchester.
The Times Higher has learnt that ministerial approval has been given for university titles proposed by University College Chester, Canterbury Christ Church University College, Liverpool Hope University College, and Southampton Institute. Their applications have reached the final hurdle and are being considered by Charity Commission officers and the Privy Council.
Three other institutions - University College Chichester, University College Northampton, and University College Worcester - have been given the go-ahead by the Department for Education and Skills to consult on their proposed university titles.
Winchester's success, announced last week, comes after nearly a decade of aiming for a university title. Paul Light, its vice-chancellor, said: "It's been a long wait. The processes of scrutiny and inspection involved have been far more demanding than the procedures other universities have undergone in the past.
"I'm relieved to be at the end of it all and delighted to be publicly recognised for our academic excellence."
Professor Light said that although Winchester would be one of the UK's smallest universities, it did not have plans for large-scale expansion.
"Where we will see significant growth is in international and postgraduate students, and growing partnerships with other education providers, business and the public sector," he said.