Universities and Science Minister David Willetts will recommend to the Privy Council that 10 higher education institutions have met the criteria to be awarded the title of university.

This will lead to the single biggest creation of universities since 1992. It follows the Government’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.

The applicants being put forward to the Privy Council for formal approval are:

    The Arts University College at Bournemouth
    Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln
    Harper Adams University College
    Leeds Trinity University College
    Newman University College, Birmingham
    Norwich University College of the Arts
    Royal Agricultural College
    University College Birmingham
    University College Falmouth
    University College Plymouth St. Mark & St. John

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“These well-known and highly-regarded university colleges represent over 1,200 years of history between them. It is right to remove the barriers preventing high-quality higher education providers like these calling themselves universities simply because of their size.

“I am delighted that they have taken up the opportunity offered by our reforms. This will lead to the biggest creation of universities since 1992 and will enable more people to realise their aspiration of going to a university.”

Andy Westwood, Chief Executive of GuildHE, the organisation that represents the 10 institutions, said:

"The minister’s recommendation that ten institutions have met the criteria to become universities recognises the quality, diversity and tradition that they bring to UK higher education.

“Smaller and specialist institutions are long established – in most cases for longer than many UK universities – and often lead the league tables in areas such as teaching and employability. They also have a strong reputation and impact in their localities and sectors – contributing to economic growth and to stronger, more vibrant communities. Gaining university title is long overdue and it helps to provide greater choice for students and for businesses, while enhancing the quality and diversity of the UK’s higher education sector as a whole."

The decision to advise the Privy Council to grant the institutions university title was made after careful consideration of their applications and advice from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The Government first proposed reducing the minimum number of students necessary to obtain university title from 4,000 to 1,000 in the 2011 higher education white paper, Students at the heart of the system.

Notes to editors:



An organisation wishing to apply for approval to use the title “university” must:

    Have been granted powers to award taught degrees
    Normally have at least 1,000 full time equivalent higher education students, of whom at least 750 are registered on degree courses (including foundation degree programmes), and the number of full time equivalent higher education students must exceed 55 percent of the total number of full time equivalent students
    Be able to demonstrate that it has regard to the principles of good governance as are relevant to its sector.


The process for obtaining UT for institutions under Privy Council oversight is as follows:

· Applicant applies to the Privy Council for approval of a particular title. In exercising the power to consent to a change in any name the Privy Council must have regard to the need to avoid names which are or may be confusing

· Applicants need to show evidence that the title they have selected is not confusing. They will be expected to have consulted stakeholders on their proposed title. The application should enclose the results of the consultation, together with proposed amendments to the institution’s governing documents

· The Privy Council Office will seek advice from BIS, who assess the institution’s suitability for UT by judging it against the criteria listed above

· BIS will in turn seek advice from HEFCE on the student numbers and governance criteria. HEFCE will advise on student numbers through analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency data and on governance issues will refer to recent audits of the institution’s framework of internal control, focusing on governance processes, audit arrangements, strategic and financial management arrangements, risk management processes, financial forecasts and sustainability frameworks

· If the SoS considers that the institution meets the criteria for UT and that the proposed name is not confusing, BIS will write to the Privy Council Office advising them to approve amendments to the institution’s governing documents relating to a name change, thereby approving the title

· An organisation will only become a university when the Privy Council or Her Majesty the Queen approves its actual title by order or by letter."

2. The Government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

– To create the most competitive tax system in the G20

– To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business

– To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy

– To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.

3. BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices and speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See https://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom for more information.
Contact Information

    BIS Press Office
    Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

    Emma Griffiths
    Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
    020 7215 5982