The merger of Humberside University and the University of Lincolnshire has alarmed parts of the community in Hull who fear an exodus resulting in a loss of prestige, jobs and investment from the city.
But Humberside's Roger King, soon to become a peripatetic vice chancellor nipping between his old base in Hull and his new headquarters in Lincoln, is confident that Hull will not be the loser in the deal. His vision for the merged University of Lincolnshire and Humberside is the creation of a "truly regional university" serving a wide community both north and south of the Humber.
But Dr King acknowledges that the plans have led to political turbulence. His previous ambitious plans for a big expansion in Hull onto a new multi-million pound city centre campus may have to change, he concedes, and the existing four campuses in Hull and Grimsby may need rationalisation. But the intention, he stresses, is not to desert the city. "We will still have a strong campus in Hull and an increasing presence in Lincoln," he says.
The move of the university's headquarters to the new Lincoln site has upset civic leaders in Hull, who have condemned the plans. Maggie Smith, county council leader, said universities were an integral part of the economic and social fabric of the area. They were not high street shops, relocating at the whim of their owners and managers, she said.
Professor King said that during the negotiations it had been important to offer a strong vice chancellor's presence on the new purposebuilt premises in Lincoln, although there would be a deputy vice chancellor on each site. The identity of Humberside University was extremely important and had been problematic given the abolition of the local authority. "Humberside is a geographical and economic area, not just a local authority. We are keeping the name in our title although it will be reviewed in the year 2000," he said.