Welsh merger partners row over name

October 3, 2003

Plans to create the biggest university in Wales by merging the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales Institute Cardiff have run into problems.

Disputes over a name for the new institution and how its vice-chancellor should be chosen, along with questions over its status in relation to the federal University of Wales, are hampering progress.

UWIC suspended merger discussions without explanation last week, in advance of a deadline for formal submission of the plans to the University of Wales.

Glamorgan's vice-chancellor Sir Adrian Webb told staff in an email: "I am dismayed that this action has been taken unilaterally as much work needs to be done over the next few weeks if the target date of August 2004 is to be achieved."

Talks resumed this week in time for the plans to be submitted, and Glamorgan's pro vice-chancellor Aldwyn Cooper said he was confident the merger would stay on track. But he admitted a number of key issues still needed to be resolved. The question of the new institution's name was a "very, very difficult one", he said.

The name Cardiff Metropolitan University has been proposed after a public consultation, but resistance from local people and staff at Glamorgan resulted in an early-day motion from 20 MPs rejecting it as "inappropriate in denying the importance of the Glamorgan valleys" and calling for the new institution to be called Cardiff Glamorgan University.

Another thorny problem is that while Glamorgan wants to go to open competition to find a vice-chancellor for the new institution, UWIC wants to offer the job to internal candidates.

Professor Cooper said: "UWIC believes there is at least one strong internal candidate - its vice-chancellor. But we are looking at a university that will be a big new dynamic institution, and we want to be assured that we have the best possible person to lead it. That person may be UWIC's vice-chancellor or ours. But it is difficult to defend the position of not inviting external candidates."

UWIC's vice-chancellor Tony Chapman declined to comment.

The final hurdle is a legal question about whether Glamorgan, which is not a member of the federal University of Wales and has its own degree-awarding powers, can become a "university within a university".

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