LUDLOW’S MP has welcomed the recent announcement that Harper Adams University College has met the criteria to become a university.

The prospective change in status, subject to the agreement of the Privy Council, follows a reduction in the minimum number of students necessary to obtain university title, from 4,000 to 1,000, enabling smaller institutions to attain university status.

Conservative MP Philip Dunne said: “It’s excellent news that, thanks to this Government’s changes, Harper Adams University College is on the road to becoming Shropshire’s first full university.

“This reflects the hard work of the students and staff of Harper Adams University College over many years. It is a great Christmas present for Shropshire.”

The proposals originated after a positive response to a 2011 consultation on the subject. Nine other institutions have achieved the same status in what is expected to be the largest creation of new universities since the polytechnics achieved university status in 1992.

David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “These well-known and highly-regarded university colleges represent over 1,200 years of history between them. It is right to remove the barrier preventing high-quality higher education providers like these from achieving university title.

“I am delighted that they have seized the opportunity offered by our reforms. This is expected to lead to the biggest creation of new universities since 1992.”