Bradford forges ahead with hybrid alliance

November 8, 2002

A new university in Bradford will be at the heart of the city's regeneration, according to Chris Taylor, vice-chancellor of Bradford University, which decided last week to merge with Bradford College.

Both institutions will be dissolved in 2004 to create a chartered university with a new name that will straddle the further and higher education sectors, writes Alison Utley.

"The city needs revitalisation and our plans will see the creation of a safe, attractive space for the citizens of Bradford," said college principal Alan Hodgson.

Talks are taking place with the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Learning and Skills Council and government departments to secure money for the merger. But Professor Taylor insisted there would be no "blank cheque".

He said the merger was designed to achieve growth in student numbers and break down barriers separating college and university learners.

The institution is expected to house about 50,000 students. Targets include 4 per cent more further education students, a 10 per cent rise in the numbers of international undergraduates and 7 per cent more home undergraduates. Numbers of postgraduates are projected to rise by a similar proportion.

The institution would be involved in the social, cultural, economic and educational future of the city, Professor Taylor said. The two neighbouring campuses would be brought together to form a single "educational village". It will undergo a £60 million improvement programme over the next ten years.

Some members of academic staff remain to be convinced about the benefits of merger, and Professor Taylor admitted that efforts to communicate his vision needed to be redoubled.

Roger Fellows, senior lecturer in philosophy, described the merger as disastrous for the university.

The latest feasibility report acknowledges concerns about the ability of the merged institution to attract top-quality research staff but stresses that the university is reviewing its research strategy.

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