University College Plymouth has been given the green light to become a fully fledged university.

The university is one of ten "new" universities set to be created in England.

It is the first time in 20 years that a new wave of universities has been created.

University College Falmouth will become Cornwall's first university, changing its name to Falmouth University.

The announcement came from Universities and Science Minister David Willetts Mr 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."

Acting Principal, Karen Cook said “This is a defining moment in the near 175-year history of the University College Plymouth St Mark & St John (Marjon). University title marks a fantastic realisation not only for all students, staff, and supporters but also for our local communities and partners, nationally and internationally. However, university title will not mark the end of the journey for Marjon. Rather, it heralds the start of a process which will see us develop further as an innovative model of a high-quality, smaller university.

She added: “Smaller institutions have long offered greater agility, smaller classes, stronger graduate employment and better retention rates – and we punch above our weight. We boast specialisms in sport; and education, including teacher training, which we have been delivering since our inception in the 1840s. Alongside further specialisms in health, linguistics and languages and journalism and media we are poised to take advantage of the attainment of university title.”

Chair of Governors, Dr Juliet Williams CBE said: “I must pay tribute to all of those who have contributed to this achievement. This recommendation heralds a new and exciting chapter for Marjon and the opportunity to realise our ambition to become the exemplar among smaller specialist higher education institutions offering an undeniably student-centric experience.

"We are already the South West’s hidden gem and poised to embark on the road that will enable us to take our rightful position as a national treasure. We have a dynamic and vibrant staff and student community and a caring, sharing tradition that was born with our foundation 175 years ago. We are arguably the third oldest Higher Education Institution in England and no longer will our light be hidden under the proverbial bushel.”