HYNDBURN MP Greg Pope has thrown his weight behind a campaign to create a University of East Lancashire.
The Labour chief has added his name to a list of five East Lancashire MPs who have sent a joint letter to the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, calling for an urgent feasibility study.
The other four MPs are Janet Anderson, who represents Rossendale and Darwen, Pendle MP Gordon Prentice, Foreign Secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw and Burnley's new MP Kitty Usher, who has taken over the reins from Peter Pike, who is also backing the campaign.
In the letter, it reads: "East Lancashire is, we understand, the only area in the country with a population over 25,000 which does not have its own university.
"Most of the universities formed in the last 15 years have been based on already established higher education institutions like the University of Central Lancashire and Manchester Metropolitan University. But six wholly new universities on "green field" sites were founded in the 1960s."
They also point out that Blackburn and Burnley Colleges account for around 95 per cent of higher education in the region but these are "franchises" with the "parent" university elsewhere.
Mr Pope, who clinched his fourth victory in the General Election last week, said: "We are all really excited about this idea because East Lancashire has missed out in the past.
"We think it is about time we had our own university. Towns such as Accrington, Blackburn, Burnley and Rossendale have a common history and identity, just as much as places like Manchester, and just as many people living in the area.
"We are calling on the Department for Education to take the feasibility study forward.
"We realise it isn't going to happen overnight and we haven't thought about possible sites yet.
"I did have a joke with my colleagues the other day saying 'Which part of Accrington would be suitable' but let's establish the case first.
"It would be good for the area as a whole."
Asked whether he believed Lancashire was big enough for two universities he said: "Lots of universities work in partnership together.
"If we look at Manchester for example. It has Manchester Met, Manchester University, Salford University and UMIST.
"We are looking at having a popular university and students will be able to apply through the UCAS system.
"There could be students from all over the UK or overseas. We are very excited that this is a government committed to education.
"As we go into a third term, people may think we have run out of steam but this would make history. We have got an idea and a great chance to take it forward."