Students in Huntingdonshire looking to progress into higher education could soon have the option of going to university in Peterborough under plans announced by the new mayor of Cambridgeshire.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, which is headed up by mayor James Palmer, is set to agree funding worth £6.5million to accelerate the establishment of a University of Peterborough.

Setting up a university in the city was one of the mayor's central campaign pledges following his election in May.

The business case to increase students currently studying at University Centre Peterborough (UCP) will be discussed at an authority meeting today (June 28).

The aim of the funding is to secure an independent University of Peterborough, giving students in Huntingdonshire increased options when looking to continue their studies after completing A Levels.

The funding, to be used over the next three years, will be spent increasing university student numbers in the city to 3,000 by expanding the curriculum, recruiting staff and boosting the city's higher education profile.

As student numbers grow, the funding could also be used to secure an additional UCP site ahead of any future University of Peterborough campus development.

The process is already under way for UCP to be able to issue its own degrees and the project team will submit an application for taught degree awarding powers later this year in order to have these in place by 2019.

It's planned that by 2020 funding will be secured for the campus infrastructure ahead of a transition to independent university status. The campus would then grow over time to match student numbers with the target of having 12,500 students studying degrees in the city by 2035.

Mr Palmer said: "I'm delighted that the combined authority is set to approve funding to further this development within my first 100 days.

"Not only will it create opportunities for our young people and attract and

develop a better skilled workforce for employers, it will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs and

a provide a significant boost to the local economy. This is just the start of our commitment to make the University of Peterborough a reality."

University Centre Peterborough was formed in 2007 and is a joint venture between Anglia Ruskin University and Peterborough Regional College.