Merger plans take cuts into account

April 12, 2002

London Guildhall University and the University of North London have denied that their plans to merge have been harmed by the decision to award them just half the money they wanted, writes Alison Goddard . The institutions are due to merge on August 1.

The universities had asked for £13.3 million but will receive half of this - £6.6 million over four years - from the Higher Education Funding Council for England's restructuring and collaboration fund.

Brian Roper, UNLvice-chancellor, who will be in charge of the finances of the merged institution, said: "We had hoped for more but we are getting on with it. The business contingency anticipated by this allocation is untouched. The development fund will grow over five years - but it's going to take a year or two to understand how our departments are getting on and to get bottom-up development thinking.

"We had a variety of development intentions that will have to be reformed to meet the budget, but we are delighted that they are funding us to this extent."

However, the "key assumptions" made in the base case for the merger included the sum of £8.9 million over three years with an additional £800,000 in the run-up to the merger, leaving the institutions £3.1 million short.

A further note from the base case reads: "Restructuring support from Hefce is assumed to be at 95 per cent of restructuring costs, the remaining 5 per cent (about £500,000) being self-funded. It should be noted that, if this level of funding is not received, initiatives will be delayed."

Mr Roper said: "The business plan is not the restructuring plan. You have got to remember the different audiences that they are generated for."

The joint committee of governors of London Guildhall and UNL welcomed the £6.6 million and acknowledged that it was awarded on the condition that the universities agree with the funding council a set of milestones and performance indicators.

* The Privy Council is considering whether the merged institution can take the name London Metropolitan University.

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