Universities Secretary David Willetts has given the green light for ten new universities to be created - the single biggest expansion of the universities system for two decades.
Most of the ten are specialist colleges like the Royal Agricultural College or teacher training institutions.
Mr Willetts’ decision to recommend to the Privy Council that they be allowed to call themselves universities follows an announcement in June that the minimum criteria for a university of 4,000 students should be reduced to 1,000.
“These well-known and highly regarded university colleges represent over 1,200 years of history between them,” said Mr Willetts. “It is right to remove the barriers preventing high quality education providers like these calling themselves universities because of their size.
The other nine are: the Arts University College at Bournemouth, Bishop Grosseteste University College in Lincoln, Harper Adams University College, Leeds Trinity University College, Newman University College in Birmingham, Norwich University College of the Arts, University College Birmingham, University College Falmouth and University College Plymouth St Mark and St John.
The last major expansion to university provision came with polytechnics being awarded university status in 1992.
Andy Westwood, chief executive of GuildHE - which represents the 10, said they were long established and often did better in league tables in terms of ranking teaching provision and the employability of students.