The topic of this paper has emerged from the work of Shelton (2000, 2003), Bernhardt, Kawagley and Hill (2000), Boylan and McSwan (1998), Bryden and Boylan (2004) and others on 'place-based' and 'consequential' education in rural areas, prompting the question: if place-based and consequential education is 'good' for primary and secondary school education in rural contexts, why not also for further and higher education? Beyond that, several recent papers on the changing role of universities in general (Ehrlich, 2000), the role of universities in regional development, and on related issues of Innovation and (Regional) Innovation Systems (Thomas, 2000; Edquist, 2004) have fed my curiosity to deepen this question. Finally, my own recent move from an old established city-based university (Aberdeen) to a new or emerging 'networked' university spread around the perimeter of the most sparsely populated and 'rural' region of the UK (The University of the Highlands and Islands) has given a very practical and applied context for these issues. The paper raises rather than solves issues. It is based only tangentially on my own recent research and publications, and so it presents little or no new empirical data. Nevertheless, I believe that the issues raised are increasingly universal issues, and therefore worthy of intellectual examination.