Slavonic school seeking suitors

October 23, 1998

Two of London University's biggest colleges may battle for the right to merge with one of Britain's most prestigious specialist institutions.

King's College will bid to merge with the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, whose small size makes running costs high. University College has not yet submitted a bid, but may do so by the November 6 deadline. King's is tipped to win as SSEES was founded there 83 years ago and it can accommodate the school in central London.

But director Michael Branch refused to comment on possible merger partners, who are expected to be chosen in mid-November. He said that the school was approaching the merger from a "position of strength".

"Nowadays universities have to do that much more and smaller institutions find it that much more difficult," said Mr Branch.

A King's spokeswoman confirmed that the college was putting together a bid. She said that the recent acquisition of the former Public Records Office had freed space in the Strand.

UCL is also discussing a partnership, or closer association, with the School of Oriental and African Studies. Despite reserves of more than Pounds 10 million, SOAS has an operating deficit.

In addition to voluntary redundancies, the school hopes that collaboration with UCL would aid savings in staff development, administration and other central services.

SOAS director Sir Timothy Lankester said: "UCL is not trying to take us over. If they did then the answer would be 'no'. There are potential benefits for both."

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