THERE were celebrations in February when the UHI Millennium Institute became the University of the Highlands and Islands following approval from the Privy Council.
It followed years of campaigning for the region to have its own university. The Scottish Government was advised by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in 2010 that UHI met the requirements for university status and the approval from the Privy Council was the final hurdle.
UHI chairman Professor Matthew MacIver described it as a defining moment in the history of the Highlands and Islands. He said for centuries, the region had been exporting intellectual talent to all corners of the globe but it was now at a point where that flow could be reversed.
"The new University of the Highlands and Islands will be a powerhouse for the economic, social and cultural development of the region," he said.
Comprising a network of 13 colleges and research centres in the Highlands, Western and Northern Isles, Moray, Argyll and Perthshire, the new university covered an area twice the size of Wales.
In December, the green light was given for work to begin on a new Inverness campus which was hailed as the most important Highland development for the next 30 years.
Developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Inverness Campus was to provide a base for Inverness College UHI, the Scottish Agricultural College, Centre for Health Science phase four, a training hotel and sports and community facilities.