UHI had hoped to secure university status in 2007
The prospective University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) is to apply for full university status in June.
The UHI Millennium Institute said it would make the application to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).
The agency would assess the bid before making a recommendation to the UK government's Privy Council.
During a visit to the Highlands, Scottish Education Minister Michael Russell said the status could be achieved within the next year.
UHI had hoped to achieve university status in 2007 - Scotland's Year of Highland Culture.
However, the QAA 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.