Unpleasant side-effects

June 2, 2011

I read with interest your article "School swallows merger medicine" (19 May).

Staff who voted against the proposal to merge the School of Pharmacy with University College London do well to be wary. The most successful mergers with UCL have involved postgraduate institutes with strong research bases, rather than institutions that bring undergraduates with them.

The Eastman Dental Institute is still part of UCL, but the former Dental School was axed in an earlier round of cuts. The London Foot Hospital, once the premier trainer of podiatrists in England, was closed with considerable acrimony after merging with UCL during a property dispute with the local health trust, and undergraduate training moved to East London.

We are still living with the effects of these decisions. The UK has experienced a long-term national shortage of dentists, and the residents of London have lost a well-used and easily accessible centre of expertise.

Unfortunately, universities are not required to consider local or national imperatives when deciding on course closures. As a former patient of the London Foot Hospital, I would recommend that the School of Pharmacy be careful what it wishes for.

G.E. Dunkeld, London

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