Brum duo calls it a day over merger

March 30, 2001

Aston University has abandoned plans to merge with Birmingham University, after Aston academics warned that the merger process was causing "planning blight".

Members of Aston's council, who met last week to consider the proposals for a third time, were concerned that the "double dissolution" model proposed for the merger - in which both institutions would be dissolved to create a new one - would be hard to achieve within a reasonable timescale.

Such a move would involve a private act of Parliament, because there is no precedent for it.

An alternative was presented to the meeting, which would have allowed both institutions to retain their titles and charters while transferring their assets to a new single institution. But it was rejected on the grounds that it provided Aston with less security.

In a statement, Aston chiefs said their council "was convinced that current timing and circumstances are not opportune for fully realising the two present vice-chancellors' shared vision for a new integrated institution, or that integration with Birmingham University on any other terms would be in the best interests of Aston's staff and students".

The proposals had already been dealt a blow when Birmingham students joined Aston students in opposing a merger.

But Maxwell Irvine, Birmingham's vice-chancellor, said he felt that an opportunity to create a world-class university, which would have been one of the United Kingdom's largest, had been missed.

"One of the merits of the case was that neither institution was in a dangerous or vulnerable position.

"It seems clear a merger will be off the agenda for some years to come now. I hope that when Aston revisits it they are not facing any problems," he said.

Professor Irvine said that he felt the talks had at least paved the way for mergers between other institutions because it had been established in talks with the Privy Council that it was possible to create a new institution without creating a new charter.

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