Slavonic merger plan

August 28, 1998

Consultants called in to advise on the future of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, largest of the University of London's senate institutes, are set to recommend a merger with another college in the university.

Price Waterhouse Coopers will not present their final findings until September 7. But presentations of preliminary findings made to SSEES staff point clearly to a merger recommendation.

The PWC team also looked at the likely consequences of the status quo or becoming a freestanding institution within the University of London. But the preliminary findings were that merger offered by far the likeliest way of maintaining the school and its range and quality of provision.

A one-month consultation period will follow, before the findings go to the school governing body, which includes Graham Zellick, vice-chancellor of the University of London, on October 7.

The school, one of the most important British centres for the study of Central and Eastern Europe, has been in difficulties since performing disappointingly in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Financial projections had been based on a better RAE outcome.

The PWC report is also expected to show that SSEES would be a valuable acquisition for another college. Likely runners include University College, London and King's College, London - both of which already have considerable teaching links with SSEES and recent experience of mergers. The School of Slavonic Studies has, like UCL, the advantage of physical proximity and has links to SSEES for work on Central Asia. Royal Holloway is also expected to be interested.

Peter Duncan, president of the Association of University Teachers branch at SSEES, said: "Our main concern is that we should maintain our integrity as a school, even if it is within another institution, and that the full range and quality of activities should be maintained."

Michael Branch, director of SSEES, said: "I do not want to comment on a report that has yet to be published."

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