Assembly set to increase Welsh merger pressure

February 14, 2008

Three Welsh universities have moved a step closer towards a merger under pressure from the Welsh Assembly.

An independent review of the three institutions - the University of Glamorgan, the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff and the University of Wales, Newport - concluded in 2005 that it was "highly desirable that a single new institution would emerge within the next five years".

Without closer collaboration, there was a real danger of decline in the face of competition from England, the report warned.

Since then, however, the southeast Wales institutions have made little progress. Last month, Jane Hutt, the Education Minister, called in the three vice-chancellors to demand an explanation.

Times Higher Education understands that she will soon announce the establishment of a new strategic collaboration board that will look at how to implement the 2005 findings. It is expected to provide an initial report by April.

The Welsh Assembly declined to confirm this news, but Ms Hutt said: "I am committed to maintaining a strong dynamic post-92 provision in southeast Wales. I welcome the continuing academic collaboration between institutions, but I am keen to support further opportunities."

A University of Glamorgan spokesman said that the university had always supported "purposeful and positive integration" and that it was "delighted" by news of the strategic collaboration board.

Margaret Phelan, regional officer for the University and College Union, said the union was "disappointed" by slow progress since 2005 because a merger would bring "significant benefits".

UWIC declined to comment.

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com.

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