A West Bank group has ignored reservations by Israel's Council on Higher Education to give a college in the area university status.
Earlier this month the government-funded committee voted against plans to upgrade the status of Ariel College, arguing that Israel should not have another university given the shortages in funding for staff and infrastructure facing other institutions.
But the education council of the West Bank settlements said on Tuesday that the college would now be known as Ariel University.
The decision was welcomed by the Israeli Prime Minister, who said it was "a day of celebration for Ariel, a day of celebration for higher education in Israel".
But Israeli professors and Palestinians criticised the move, which is likely to bring opprobrium on Israel from the international community because it will be seen as a victory for supporters of the settlements.
The settler group's decision is not final, as the Israeli military has to approve all legal decisions made in the West Bank.