Merger bid clears final hurdle

January 5, 2001

Leeds University has cleared the final hurdle in merger negotiations with Bretton Hall, a West Yorkshire college rocked by financial scandal.

The merger plan has been endorsed by the university's council after 30 months of discussions that have seen the departure of four senior Bretton Hall figures, including the principal. The low point came in July when financial irregularities were uncovered during a due diligence exercise at the college, carried out on behalf of the university, and the finance director was suspended.

However, the university said this week that the merger was scheduled to take place on August 1 2001. It would safeguard the future of the college and broaden the academic portfolio of Leeds.

A new school of cultural industries and performing arts is planned at Bretton, together with an extension of teaching and research in fine art, music and education. Fashion and design at Bretton will combine with textiles studies at Leeds.

Within five years it is planned that an extra 3,000 people in the district will enrol on courses leading to university qualifications.

Alan Wilson, Leeds vice-chancellor, said: "The region will benefit from a large expansion of educational opportunities to those who might not have had the chance to consider undertaking higher education. Joining with Bretton will help us fulfil important agendas of widening participation and access and enhance our contribution to the development of the region."

He said the merger would enable the university to expand its research interests.

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