Birmingham is to become home to five universities after the Government gave the green light for two colleges to become fully-fledged higher education institutions.
University College Birmingham and Newman University College will be given university status in the biggest creation of universities for 20 years.
It follows the coalition’s announcement in June that red tape barring some smaller institutions from being awarded the title of “university” would be removed.
Previously, institutions needed a minimum of 4,000 students to become a university. This has now been reduced to 1,000.
Business experts say having two new institutions to join University of Birmingham, Aston University and Birmingham City University will give the local economy a boost.
Professor Peter Lutzeier, vice chancellor and principal of Newman University, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been recommended from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to use the full university title.
“Achieving university status has been a long-held ambition for Newman and provides welcome recognition for the quality of our courses, graduates, lecturers and staff.”
Newman, in Bartley Green, is a specialist teacher training institution with 3,000 full-time students.
It is named after its patron, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, who was beatified during the Pope’s visit to Birmingham in 2010.
Newman achieved university college status in 2007, and teaches a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses.
University College Birmingham is based in the centre of Birmingham with 7,500 students, and offers a number of vocational and academic courses.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, who made the announcement, said: “It is right to remove the barriers preventing high-quality higher education providers like these calling themselves universities simply because of their size.
“This [is] the biggest creation of universities since 1992 and will enable more people to realise their aspiration of going to a university.”
The new criteria outlined by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for institutions hoping to be awarded university status is:
• They must have been granted powers to award taught degrees
• They must have at least 1,000 full time equivalent higher education students, of whom at least 750 are registered on degree courses. The number of full time equivalent higher education students must exceed 55 percent of the total number of full time equivalent students
• They must be able to demonstrate that it has regard to the principles of good governance as are relevant to its sector.