Royal Holloway and St George’s call off revived merger talks

End of negotiations echoes events of 2008, when union was floated and then dropped

January 12, 2022
Egham, near London, UK - February 14, 2009 The Victorian grandeur of the Royal Holloway building in Egham - The building is part of the University of London campus and was founded in 1879. It is home to over 9000 students annually.
Source: iStock

Two University of London member institutions have called a halt to merger talks.

The governing bodies of Royal Holloway, University of London and St George’s, University of London had disclosed details of the discussions, which got under way in summer 2021, last September.

But negotiations have come to a close without a union being agreed. This echoes events of 2008, when the Tooting-based medical school and the Egham-based university announced plans for a merger but scrapped the proposal a year later in the face of funding uncertainties driven by the financial crisis at the end of that decade. 

In a statement, the two institutions said that merger talks “have come to an end”.

“During the autumn, discussions have enabled both universities to identify potential new collaboration opportunities. Work will continue to develop these areas of joint interest, which will complement existing successful partnerships,” the institutions said.

Paul Layzell, Royal Holloway’s principal, said while a merger “would have accelerated our ambitions in health”, the university’s new department of health “takes us into new exciting new areas”.

“I am confident that new collaborations will emerge in the future, adding to the already successful collaborative arrangements that are already in place,” Professor Layzell said.

The cancellation of talks represents an abrupt turnaround from an update on negotiations issued by Professor Layzell at the end of November which said that “a merger between Royal Holloway and St George’s would seem to offer the possibility of a strong, dual excellence university, one which would draw from broad disciplinary strengths that will increase visibility, impact and international reach”.

A “detailed and rigorous due diligence process” was under way at that point, Professor Layzell said.

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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