No pressure to merge

February 21, 2008

I would like to reassure Welsh readers that mergers or acquisitions are not part of the remit of the new strategic collaboration board announced last week by the Welsh Education Minister, Jane Hutt, as your report claimed ("Assembly set to increase Welsh merger pressure", February 14).

Instead, following the recommendations of John Bull and Ron Cooke's 2005 report and the subsequent progress made in South East Wales, further serious attention is being given to opportunities for strategic collaboration between the region's universities to meet their communities' economic and social demands through expanding opportunities for lifelong learning and raising the level of skills. Far from putting pressure on institutions to merge for the sake of merger, the intention is to find ways of sharing in major new projects, including collaborative research, that can involve harmonising provision and exploring ways by which systems can be more effective and efficient. If there is any "pressure" it is generated by the universities themselves, which want to develop their capacities and extend their reach.

Deian Hopkin,
Strategic collaboration board for SE Wales

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