The first institution in the Highland university project to have an honours degree course up and running has emerged in the unlikely form of the Highland Theological College in Dingwall.
The college, part of what is now known as the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute, will have a four-year BA in theological studies ready for students in September. This is another step by the UHIMI towards full university status, a process which could take up to 10 years to complete.
The FE-based project already has 20 or so degree courses but the theological course is the first to be validated (by the Open University) and offered to honours level.
The theological college, which was set up seven years ago, has a three-year BA degree in theological studies, the first year of which is also available through the UHIMI website.
The Rev Hector Morrison, the college's vice-principal and honours degree course team leader, said this latest development means that "we now have a wide choice of courses, from part-time to full-time and from personal-study evening classes to degrees at honours and PhD levels".
The Rev Dr Andrew McGowan, the college principal, pointed to "the good news that being part of UHIMI as a designated higher education institution means that Scottish students who have not previously taken a degree will not pay any tuition fees when they come to study here".
The next stage beyond designated HE status will be degree-awarding powers and the final stage will be the granting of the university title by the Privy Council. The timing of these stages will depend on the progress of the overall development of UHIMI.