Derby on verge of empire...Bath's ambition stagnates

July 11, 1997

PLANS to create a regional university through the merger of Derby University with two neighbouring further education colleges looked set to take off this week.

Following meetings with the Further Education Funding Council, Derby vice chancellor Roger Waterhouse is confident he will get the go ahead to expand his empire in to an institution with 40,000 students and an annual turnover approaching Pounds 65 million.

"I now believe the funding council is supporting our proposals," he said.

The university plans to merge with High Peak College in Buxton and Mackworth College in Derby.

The FEFC would not comment on its talks with the university because its reorganisation committee will meet in September to make the final decision and the secretary of state for education also has to give approval.

The FEFC has however been lukewarm over FE/HE mergers and has set out strict criteria to safeguard FE provision.

David Croll, principal of nearby Derby Wilmorton College, said he was worried that the proposed merger amounted to a takover: "We are in danger of losing the ethos of FE."

l BATH University has gone back to the drawing board on plans to merge with the University of the West of England in Bristol. But UWE heads appear keen to press on with the idea. Bath's ruling council has asked the university's executive committee to reconsider the proposals for closer collaboration with UWE, including the possibility of merger. It wants the committee to take a fresh look at its plans for the university in the autumn, following publication of the Dearing report.

The decision follows Bath senate's narrow vote against a merger. A statement from the university said the council noted that Bath's academic community was "divided on whether a combination with the University of the West of England was necessarily the way forward". It added that the decision to provide a more detailed analysis of the proposals "is without prejudice to collaboration or combination with other institutions, including the University of the West of England".

Alfred Morris, UWE's vice chancellor, has told staff he will advise the university's board of governors when it meets on Monday that he considers the "vision" of a merger with Bath "sufficiently exciting to merit more detailed exploration".

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