AN ambitious project to transform the campus of one of Scotland's oldest universities could top three quarters of a billion pounds.

The money will be spent by Glasgow University over the next decade as it upgrades its existing site in the west end of the city and develops an adjacent 15-acre plot currently occupied by the Western Infirmary.

As the first artist's impressions of what the new site might look like emerge, Professor Anton Muscatelli, the university principal, revealed the scale of the spending the university is considering.

He told The Herald: "If you take new buildings, refurbishment and some existing projects that have already started you are looking at between half a billion and three quarters of a billion pounds over the next decade or so.

"We are in a fortunate position because we have no debt on our balance sheet, we have accumulated a reasonable amount of cash reserves to invest and we will obviously be looking at other opportunities to raise funds and secure major grants.

"Because of the wider financial situation there are no capital grants at the moment of that size and we are not assuming that large swathes of money will be coming our way, but we are planning each project carefully to ensure each one is fully funded as we progress.

"We will have to borrow, but we will do it in such a way that we are comfortable and, because we have no debt, we can take that on in a very prudent approach."

Mr Muscatelli said the new site, which is bounded by Dumbarton Road, Church Street and University Place, would be developed to open up the wider university campus.

The university is also considering building a new main entrance on Dumbarton Road, rather than the current location at the rear of the iconic Gilmorehill building on University Avenue.

He said: "If you look at our campus now it is a bit of an island in the west end and the idea, now that the campus will stretch from the lower end of Byres Road to Kelvingrove, is to see whether we can open up avenues through it so that people will be encouraged to move through it.

"What we hope that will do is allow the campus to become a proper civic campus where people feel part of it and it is not just seen as simply an island in which students and academics staff work and learn, but becomes more embedded in this part of the city.

"The campus extension will also give us a chance to create an entrance on Dumbarton Road which, again, given the regeneration that has happened in that part of the west end I think it will be fantastic."

Mr Muscatelli said the campus expansion had come at the perfect time for the university, which has now outgrown the Gilmorehill campus, which it moved to in 1870.

"We have been growing very rapidly over the last few years. More and more students want to study in Glasgow both from Scotland, the rest of UK and internationally. Commensurate with that increase in students we have also increased our employment of research and teaching staff," he said.

"This came at exactly the right time because we were really finding it difficult to find space on this campus and we had to take up accommodation in the centre of the city to house one of our research units because we were finding it difficult to find space.

"When we we first came here in 1870 there was a period of expansion between then and 1930 when we developed new facilities for new disciplines and we have a similar opportunity now to use this to transform the university and the city in terms of a base of skills development and world-leading innovation that can change lives."