This week's launch of GuildHE represents a welcome sign of life among those smaller institutions that can too easily be ignored in the scramble for influence over higher education policy. The creation of a new group of universities is good news for the successful candidates but risks leaving a rump of disenfranchised colleges. GuildHE addresses this concern by promising a more focused organisation and has even persuaded a handful of the new universities to stay. With 250,000 students in its member institutions, it will have an important role to play, particularly in some of the specialist areas of higher education.
In the long term, however, the question for GuildHE is what type of organisation to become. Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell last week stressed the need for Universities UK to remain as a focal point for discussions with the Government, but UUK has already declined to represent the whole sector by taking in the colleges. GuildHE will therefore look like one of the university pressure groups while also having to replicate work done by its much larger counterpart. Common sense suggests that eventually a merger will be seen to be to the benefit of all types of institution.