Merger merits

May 9, 1997

I AM AFRAID that Frank Gould ("Think big and move for more mergers", THES, May 2), has fallen into the usual trap of assuming that there are always economies from institutional mergers. All recent research shows the opposite. The main reason is the extra costs of integration, such as harmonising terms and conditions of service (which always means levelling up) and restructuring information systems, as well as factors such as relocation and travel costs. The biggest cost, never measured, is management time. Mergers can have significant benefits - but they are strategic and academic rather than financial.

John Fielden

Director, Commonweath Higher Education Management Service

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