A potential site has been chosen for a new Inverness College campus.
Inverness College at the Longman in Inverness
Highland higher education institute UHI Millennium Institute said the preferred location was in the A96 corridor between Inverness and Nairn.
The site at Beechwood Farm was identified during a Highland Council meeting which discussed a plan on how land along the A96 should be developed.
UHI had hoped to attain full university status next year. The existing main college buildings are in Inverness.
Highland Council's planning, development, Europe and tourism committee approved a preferred set of development options for the A96 corridor.
Included are plans for a new college campus with faculty and research facilities along with student and staff accommodation.
UHI had hoped to attain full university status in 2007.
However, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education said more time was needed for the institute to become the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The agency said UHI programmes were of a high quality, but it has asked for a stronger university structure.