Huddersfield University's dream of creating a new university 40 miles away in South Yorkshire collapsed this week, writes Alison Utley.
The university had proposed a merger with Doncaster College as a means of expanding student numbers from under-represented groups.
But the negotiations collapsed amid disagreements over the role that further education would play in the institution.
The merger would have enabled Huddersfield to increase the number of higher education students in Doncaster, which has one of the lowest participation rates in the country, from 1,200 to 5,000.
A merged institution would have had a turnover of about £100 million and about 20,000 students.
A joint statement said there had been an extensive exploration of merger options but "despite the best endeavours of both parties, and a genuine desire to secure an imaginative arrangement that might add further value to our organisations, sadly such an outcome has not proved to be practicable".
Stephen Clough, senior deputy principal at Doncaster College, said ambitious plans to create a university in the town would not be abandoned.
The universities of Hull, Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and the Open University have in the past expressed an interest in the project.