Old Scots flames rekindled

June 9, 2000

Dundee and St Andrews universities, once a single institution, are launching an ambitious partnership backed by more than Pounds 300,000 from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

Dundee became an independent university in 1967 after a 70-year, sometimes stormy, relationship with St Andrews. The two are now embarking on an extensive audit of teaching and research to see where they can collaborate.

St Andrews' secretary David Corner said the audit was intended to be "provocative", asking staff not only what they do, but what they might do. It will initially concentrate on engineering and physical sciences; medicine and health sciences; biology, biochemistry and chemistry; art history and art and design; and commercialisation.

There are already plans for a new joint first degree in electronics and opto-electronics, and postgraduate courses that marry art theory with practice. Mr Corner stressed the partnership was not a prelude to a merger.

"That is not on the agenda. It is also a non-exclusive partnership." But he said the universities' joint history was likely to make collaboration easier than for two "random institutions" since many strengths were complementary rather than overlapping.

David Swinfen, vice-principal of Dundee, said the scheme would bring together areas of strength in both institutions rather than attempt to bolster weakness in one with strength in the other. "We've got to enhance the level of trust between the institutions. This will vary a lot, and it's easier to develop trust between two (institutions) that regard each other as peers," he said.

John Sizer, chief executive of Shefc, which has been urging institutions to collaborate more, said: "We expect (the alliance) to provide great benefits, both in teaching and research, as well as offering tangible broader benefits to Scotland as a whole."

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