'We'll be university' College now has power to award degrees WALES.
NORTH East Wales Institute could be a university by the end of the year.
Education Minister Jane Hutt announced yesterday it will get taught degree-awarding powers.
All that remains now is for NEWI to petition the Privy Council to ask it to grant it university status.
On a visit to the college yesterday Ms Hutt announced to staff that the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has approved the Institute's application for taught degree awarding powers.
Once an institution has been granted taught degree-awarding powers it may petition the Privy Council for a university title.
NEWI principal and chief executive, Professor Michael Scott said: "I'm delighted that the QAA have recognised NEWI's achievements and I look forward to the final decision by the Privy Council.
"The recognition by the QAA is a great reward for all the work undertaken at NEWI. The institution offers a broad range of higher education opportunities to the community of North East Wales and beyond and it makes a significant contribution to the social and economic development of the region."
Last year, NEWI unveiled plans for an pounds 8m development including a pounds 3m conference and performing arts centre.
Applications for taught degree-awarding powers have to undergo detailed scrutiny by the Quality Assurance Agency before being submitted to the Privy Council for approval.
President of the Institute Lord Barry Joneswas at NEWI to hear the announcement, along with the chair of the board of governors, Brian Howes, Wrexham MP Ian Lucas and the AM for Wrexham, Lesley Griffiths.
The leader of Wrexham County Borough Council, Cllr Aled Roberts, said: "It is obviously good news for Wrexham and even better news for NEWI who have put a lot of effort into their application.
"We are pleased the improvements in teachingwhich have been undertaken in the last few years have been recognised.
"It is big news for Wrexham and hope we will be able to attract even larger numbers of students.
"It will enable NEWI to develop research facilities and contacts with local business. It is a ringing endorsement for staff and students.
"We hope the Privy Council will move quickly before the end of the year, the indications are NEWI will be moving to university status this year and as a council we will do everything we can to support it.
Wrexham's Assembly Member, Lesley Griffiths described it as a "historic day" for the town.
She said: "NEWI is now within 'touching distance' of becoming a fully fledged university in its own right. This is tremendous news for Wrexham as everyone in the town should be very proud of what is being achieved at NEWI. It is also excellent news for all the staff under the superb leadership of the Institute's Principal, Professor Michael Scott.
"The Welsh Assembly Government has fully backed NEWI becoming a university.
Support for NEWI was a prominent feature within the 'One Wales' programme for Government document."
Delighted: NEWI Principal Professor Michael Scott; NEWI at Wrexham (above) is set to be a university as soon as the end of the year after education minister Jane Hutt announced yesterday that it was to be granted taught degree-giving power