Wakefield College is preparing to bid for funding to open a new £7 million university centre in the city.
The college, backed by Wakefield Council, hopes the centre will increase the number of people with higher education qualifications across the district.
It will bid for the money for the first stage of the development - an advanced skills and innovation centre - from the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.
The skills centre, which could open within two years, will help people develop higher level skills, linked to the needs of the area’s employers.
It will eventually become the heart of the new university centre, which will offer a wider range of degree courses.
Sam Wright, Wakefield College’s principal, said: “Our plans to develop an Advanced Skills and Innovation Centre, on our Wakefield City Campus, will enable us to offer more local residents and businesses access to the advanced skills training needed to further develop the economy of the Wakefield district and the wider region.”
The college hopes to up its higher education student intake to 800 by 2021.
Wakefield Council leader Peter Box said: “Wakefield is significantly lagging behind other places in terms of higher level skills and qualifications.
“The Centre for Cities report 2015, showed that Wakefield was second from the bottom of 64 UK cities, when ranked according to residents with higher level skills.
“It is for this reason that we are strongly supportive of the College’s bid for a university centre within the district and are backing their application for funding.”
Speaking at the launch of Wakefield Business Week on Monday, Joanne Roney, Wakefield Council’s chief executive said the university centre was the number one game changer in town”.
She said the university centre would equip students with skills and qualifications needed in the digital, technical and knowledge economies as well as manufacturing industries.