Plans for an independent University of Lincolnshire have been scrapped after a struggle for academic control. The University of Humberside has wrested power from rival bidder Nottingham Trent University, and the Lincoln project will now become effectively a college of Humberside.
A tense round of negotiations saw Nottingham Trent, Lincoln's partner for three years, being dropped last week, a year ahead of the scheduled arrival of students.
The Lincolnshire project company switched its allegiance to Humberside when it became clear that Nottingham Trent could not offer sufficient funded student numbers and was calling for a significant reduction of the project.
Ray Cowell, vice chancellor of Nottingham Trent, said he was anxious about the new arrangement. "What we had wanted was an independent university based on the needs of Lincolnshire. Nottingham Trent would have been merely the facilitator to that end. The Humberside model is quite different from that."
Professor Cowell stressed that his proposal had been viable despite the capping of student numbers. He said a lot of work had been wasted and he would be seeking compensation.
Roger King, vice chancellor of Humberside, said the symmetry of interests between Lincolnshire and Humberside had been irresistible. "It was really a question of compete or collaborate," he said. Humberside already has 2,000 students in North Lincolnshire but the campus there is not owned by the university and cannot expand. "Whereas Nottingham Trent had restricted student growth we have the reverse problem. The merger will bring together the capital assets and funded student numbers."
Humberside has asked the Privy Council for permission to change its name to the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside, and the Lincoln project company will remain in existence.
David Cook, chief executive of the company, said that the new deal got round a number of difficulties. "The world has changed since we began but we deserve more than the fag end of student numbers." Paying tribute to Nottingham Trent's contribution, he said that the project's success in attracting business and local community support meant that any slowing down of the pace of growth would have been unacceptable.
Under Humberside's proposals a minimum of 500 fully-funded student places will be allocated to Lincoln's new Brayford Pool campus in 1996, rising to 5,000 by the end of the decade. Initially there will be four schools: business; health; electrical and electronic engineering and tourism.
Work began in March and Pounds 22 million has been raised so far. A further Pounds 10 million is required to secure completion of the first building phase by 1998. Robert Parker, chairman of the project company board, said: "We are confident that business and individuals within Lincolnshire will help us."