True cost of mergers

January 19, 2007

Adrian Monck argues (Opinion, December 22/29) that, like companies, universities should be subject to mergers and acquisitions to become more efficient and customer-focused.

Unfortunately, he is wrong. The evidence on mergers in higher education is that the benefits rarely outweigh the costs: what is gained through resource rationalisation is offset by more bureaucracy.

America and Australia show that, because higher education is a positional good, marketisation simply reinforces inequalities between students and between institutions. But why let evidence get in the way of facile comparisons with the private sector?

Roger Brown.
Southampton Solent University

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