Merger is mooted for King's chemistry

October 3, 2003

King's College London is considering merging its threatened chemistry department with another London institution, according to internal documents seen by The THES .

The future of the department has been uncertain since the college announced that its deficit was unsustainable. The college management is debating whether to close the department. But it is also talking with University College London about a possible merger.

Many staff have already resigned amid the confusion. Eight have moved to 5*-rated departments elsewhere in the UK, and six have moved to institutions abroad. Imperial College London profited especially well - it took five members of the King's department, including Rosalind Franklin award-winner Susan Gibson and Royal Society fellow Mike Robb.

In a formal submission to King's management, the chemistry department said the college had succeeded only in strengthening the chemistry departments of its main rivals. It added that the fact that most had gone to 5* departments proved "that the whole process is a misjudgement on the part of the college".

A member of the department told The THES : "There is no one in this department who wants to stay. Everyone wants to get as far away from King's management as possible."

He added that the department had heard unofficially that it was third from the top of the 4-rated departments in the most recent RAE. "All the college needed to do was keep faith with us," he said.

According to the department's submission, the college had been exploring a merger with Queen Mary, University of London, but the discussions had fallen through. It said: "This is not surprising given how many staff within King's chemistry department have been driven out."

A spokesperson for King's confirmed that no decision had yet been reached about the department's future.

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