London merger causes anxiety

August 31, 2001

Students and staff at London Guildhall University have voiced concerns about the institution's proposed merger with the University of North London.

Jamie Keers-McMahon, president of London Guildhall students' union, criticised a lack of communication between the university and the staff and students.

He also said he was worried that the merger was intended only to improve the institutions' financial situations.

Mr Keers-McMahon said: "Nowhere has it been said that courses will improve or that facilities, numbers of computers or accommodation will be better.

"This hasn't been put across as being taken into consideration, and that is what we are alarmed by most. If we are going to do better in the Quality Assurance Agency ratings as a joint university, that's good. If not, then it's quite alarming."

Mr Keers-McMahon said the lack of information about the merger was damaging morale. "Even heads of department and faculty leaders don't know what's going on, which is causing rumours and scaremongering. I don't want to start next year on a low," he said.

He raised the possibility that some potential students might be put off London Guildhall because of uncertainty about the merger or even that second-year students might transfer away from the university.

Meanwhile, the local branch of lecturers' union Natfhe has questioned the timescale of the merger discussions. In a recent letter to staff, it said:

"Natfhe is at a loss to know why such an important decision for all our futures is to be taken with so little time to consider its merits."

Roderick Floud, provost of London Guildhall, said: "We have discussed the academic benefits of the merger, and we expect to put out very shortly, for general consideration, a paper on the academic issues, so there will be plenty of opportunity for discussions.

"I think we have kept people informed, and I haven't any sense that it (the merger) has affected this year's recruitment."

Professor Floud said the timetable was sensible. "This is not a matter that should drag on for too long," he said.

An interim report from the joint committee that is investigating the merger is expected soon, with the final report to go to the two universities' boards of governors in September.

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