PLANS for an independent university in Blackburn have moved a step closer as college bosses apply to validate their own degree programmes.

Blackburn College, which runs higher education courses at its University Centre, currently offers degrees validated by Lancaster University, the University of Central Lancashire and others.

But the application to secure Foundation Degree awarding powers, if successful, will enable the college to give out higher level qualifications independently and drop its partnership with other universities.

Under the awarding powers, the college would be able to create its own degrees and tailor them to the needs of the community and jobs market in the area.

It would be the first step towards its goal of gaining independence within the next decade.

In March, Principal Ian Clinton revealed that the University Centre would be expanding with 600 more places being created, geared towards science, technology, engineering and maths.

It is also investing more than £300,000 on student accommodation.

The college has decided to go for Foundation Degree status after receiving what is believed to be the best review in the country by the Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review.

Mr Clinton said: “If successful, being able to validate our own Foundation Degrees will allow us to respond much quicker to market demands, creating degrees in which there are jobs.

“It’s an exciting time, we are definitely moving nearer to achieving a full university status.”