Ambitious plans to transform Warwick University into one of the world's leading higher education institutions have been unveiled.

The blueprint, published today, contains a raft of measures designed to catapult Warwick into a league table of the top 50 centres internationally by 2015.

Key to the drive is a push to snare the world's best academics. It has pledged to increase the proportion of world-class researchers from five to 45 by appointing "only the most able" staff.

Managers promised to leave positions empty rather than appoint scholars that were not suitable to achieve its ambitions.

The blueprint sets a target of doubling the number of postgraduate researchers to 2,000, creating a quarter in which overseas' universities will be invited set up base, and doubling turnover.

The university's vice-principal Nigel Thrift said: "It is a fact that having a top 50 university in the region would bring all kind of benefits.

"We are going to try hard to make that happen. It is ambitious, it is a stretch, but it can be done."

Warwick is ranked 73rd best university in the world according to The Times Higher Education Supplement, based on the quality of research and student demand. It comes 11th out of the 15 UK universities in the top hundred - a list dominated by US institutions. Birmingham University ranks 90.

Warwick's masterplan includes creating "at least three new research centres" and a multi-million pound refurbishment of the Warwick Arts Centre.

Mr Thrift said it was vital the institution repositioned itself if it was to thrive in an increasingly cut-throat and globally competitive academic environment.

"It we don't do this the alternative is stagnation and decline. You might not notice it immediately, but giving that a number of other universities are growing in this way you will decline.

"There is genuine global competition. There are a number of Indian, Chinese and Australian universities that are pretty credible now on the world stage. North American universities are gaining an international presence.

"We are in a time of great change and you have to think what you are going to do about it. Ten years on the landscape will look pretty different."

Warwick intends to boost its global reputation by focusing on appointing so called "highly cited researchers" whose work is widely referred to by other academics.

It envisages hosting four universities from outside Europe on its campus within an international quarter, where research will be shared.

The measure aims to turn the institution into an "international portal" for academic activity in the UK.

Mr Thrift claimed the benefits of the university's ambitions would be felt throughout the West Midlands.

"It will impact in a series of ways. It gives the region more visibility in the world as a whole. That can only be good for the region."

Warwick's plans also include establishing a public sector park that will aim to attract 2,000 Government workers to the site and establishing greater links with the business community.

The institution intends to hold regular policy brief-ings in Birmingham to underline its importance to the region. It will also enter into consortiums with local authorities and businesses to support new trust schools across the Warwick region.

John Edwards, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, praised the university's vision for the future.

"Warwick, along with Birmingham, is one of our region's world class universities in terms of the vision and ambition it shows and the success of its research and development," he said.

"We have worked with the university extensively down the years - not least on the Premier Automotive Research and Development centre, the exciting plans for the Digital Laboratory and through the Birmingham Science City project."