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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Highland uni project receives 5m
UHI principal Bob Cormack
Principal of UHI Prof Cormack welcomed the latest funding
Plans to create a university for the Highlands and Islands have received a boost after the area's enterprise company agreed to grant 5m of funding.

Highland higher education institution UHI Millennium Institute is currently vying for university status.

The Highlands and Islands Enterprise network said they would pay the money over three years to boost both management and facilities.

UHI principal Professor Bob Cormack described the support as "vital".

Costs of creating a university for the region have been estimated to reach levels as high as 100m.

The package will enable us to develop our curriculum, improve our networking and strengthen our management
Prof Bob Cormack

Before the recent election, UHI produced a four-page briefing paper for the region's prospective parliamentary candidates.

The paper called on the Scottish Executive to give UHI substantial funding to support research and new buildings.

Prof Cormack welcomed the funding from HIE.

He said: "The continued support of Highland and Islands Enterprise to UHI is very important to us, demonstrating the importance of UHI to the economy and the skills-base of the region.

"The package will enable us to develop our curriculum, improve our networking and strengthen our management."

Future prosperity

The principal said they also intended to recruit two vice-principals, one for research and commercialisation and the other to head up learning and teaching.

Alex Patterson, director of developing skills at HIE, also emphasised the importance of a university to the future prosperity of the area.

He said: "It will contribute to development right across the spectrum of our ambitions to retain and attract young people to study higher education within the Highlands and Islands."

UHI had hoped to attain full university status in 2007 - the Highland Year of Culture.

However, that hope suffered a blow last year when the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education said more time was needed for the institute to become a university.

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