Uni bosses vote against ‘merger’

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A STAFF union at Lancaster University is welcoming news that a planned federation with the University of Liverpool has been scrapped.

The Universities and College Union (UCU), which represents academics, lecturers, trainers and researchers said that opposition to a “merger” between the two universities was widespread and had been growing in recent months.

Last September an internal university document suggested that the two institutions should join forces and become known as “Liverpool-Lancaster University” if they wanted to be in the “global elite” and grab a lion’s share of funding council research income.

When the Lancaster Guardian revealed that the two universities were in merger talks, outgoing vice-chancellor Prof Paul Wellings described our report as “erroneous speculation”.

Bosses from the two universities later confirmed that they were discussing ways in which they might collaborate in their long-term strategic interest, including “looking at models of closer integration”.

In a statement, the executive of the local branch of the UCU, based at Lancaster University, said: “This merger plan was not in the best interests of Lancaster University or the city of Lancaster.

“Opposition was widespread and had been growing in recent months.

“Some important issues relating to Lancaster University’s future position have been identified as deserving of fuller discussion and we remain ready to take a constructive part in that discussion while defending the interests of our members.”

The UCU congratulated new Vice-Chancellor Mark E Smith for “showing leadership on the issue”.

In a statement, Lancaster University said: “After extensive discussions between both institutions, through which areas of positive benefit have been identified, the universities have agreed that they should not proceed with the federal model since they do not believe it is possible to secure the transformational benefits at this time.

“However, the universities have agreed to continue to explore the benefits of joint international collaborations and the potential for a joint Graduate School, given the significant common ground identified during the discussions.”

Lancaster University said the decision would not preclude the collaborations that are already ongoing and are “of immense value to both universities” – in medical education, particle physics through the Cockcroft Institute, Zoonosis research, Eco-Innovation, and the doctoral training centre in humanities and social sciences.”