A SCOTTISH university has been accused of embarking on "vanity projects" just weeks before it opens a new campus in London.

Our sister newspaper The Herald reports that the attack by lecturers' leaders follows moves by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to open a centre in the London Borough of Southwark, to the south of the Thames. The university is also considering a campus in the United Arab Emirates.

The new London campus has been planned to capitalise on the lucrative market in international students, who pay thousands of pounds for courses in the UK.

Although UWS recruits international students to its campuses in Scotland, it has lower numbers than many of its competitors here. The first courses available will be in business and nursing.

The move has provoked particular anger because it comes just weeks after it emerged the university has drawn up proposals to relocate its campus in Hamilton to a motorway business park 12 miles east of Glasgow.

Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official, said: “It is absurd that the university is opening a new campus in London at the same time as they are considering moving out of Hamilton. London is well served with its own institutions that offer first class opportunities to students studying there.

"The university should be concentrating on fulfilling its responsibilities to the population of the west of Scotland, including the people of Hamilton, rather than embarking on the building of vanity projects hundreds of miles away."

Monica Lennon, a Scottish Labour Party councillor for the Hamilton North and East ward, also went on to the attack.

She said: "It's disgusting that UWS are ramping up plans for overseas expansion and a London campus when the future of the Hamilton campus is at risk.

"Access to higher education in the West of Scotland will be damaged if the Hamilton campus closes and the commercial decision to move into a business park would not serve the best interests of students.

"These other plans shouldn't be to the detriment of students who depend on access to a local university. Perhaps it's time the Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance intervened."

A spokesman for UWS said officials were pressing ahead after being granted formal approval from UK Visas and Immigration.

He said: "As part of our global strategy this new campus will enable us to deliver UWS courses to the expanding market of international students in London.

"As part of wider development plans the university is currently considering a range of options to ensure it delivers an outstanding and transformational learning environment for students in Lanarkshire.

"Those plans centre on enhancing the university's presence in Lanarkshire for the benefit of students from Lanarkshire and beyond. The Lanarkshire campus development underlines our commitment to having a strong presence in the region."

Last month, it emerged that UWS is considering closing its Hamilton base and re-opening it on the Eurocentral business park on the M8.

The move is one of three options being considered by the university after some of the money it needed for a £53 million development on the current town centre site was put on hold by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

The other options include a smaller redevelopment on the current site or a new building on a technology park on the outskirts of Hamilton.