Our Concerns
Sir Derek Roberts's remit on reappointment was to propose a future for UCL. Why has this been abandoned in favour of a merger neither called for nor anticipated?
Why are the preparations for a merger being driven with such force and speed? If a merger is desirable then the proposers have nothing to fear from open and detailed discussion and consultation.
Why is Sir Derek refusing to present to the Council alternative proposals to the merger? Is there a 'Plan B'?
What guarantees can be offered in a merged college to the humanities which will then be in an even more marginalised position (<10% of the total activities) than they are in UCL?
Sir Derek and Sir Richard insist that the size of the combined institution will make it a 'worldbeater' (whatever exactly that means). What evidence is there that size guarantees academic excellence or reputation? (MIT is smaller than the present Imperial).
Sir Derek talks of building a 'university for the Third Millennium'. Apart from the bombastic crassness of such language, isn't it a little early in the millennium to know exactly what sort of university it needs?
Management studies show that mergers fail completely or partially in 87% of cases. The record in this country of public sector mergers (e.g. amongst NHS hospitals) is notably poor. The recently merged London Metropolitan University is already riven by rows over job contracts.
Figures from LSE show that Imperial and UCL are the two most expensive state-sector universities. If top-up fees proceed, a combined institution will be subject to intense price competition from other universities. How will this be met by the merged university - by cuts? by aggressive marketing? Where is the role of repository and creator of knowledge in all this?
If as Sir Derek says 'no decision has yet been taken', why is he pressing ahead with preparations for a lavish presentation next March to alumni on the benefits and future of the merger?