103 Views

Government plans university mergers

David Lammy, the higher education minister, going to give a talk this week. (photo: guardian.co.uk)

David Lammy, the higher education minister, going to give a talk this week. (photo: guardian.co.uk)

Universities may need to merge to survive the economic downturn, according to the British government. David Lammy, the new higher education minister, has claimed that in the face of economic collapse and large debts universities may be forced to work more closely or even merge into one. In a speech to the Universities UK conference last week Mr Lammy said ‘Do you have the right number of institutions? In the commercial sector there would have to be many mergers over the next few decades – far more than we have seen in higher education. Could more be done to encourage that among universities?’

The University of Sussex is among 12 universities that had a combined £77m in collapsed Icelandic banks and now potentially face serious deficits that could make them less able to resist a merger. There has been some suggestion that the university could become more closely linked with Brighton, as Lammy phrased to create ‘new forms of partnerships or federations.’ In a statement yesterday the University was quick to stress that there were currently no plans for merging with Brighton University but did highlight the close links between the institutions. ‘Where there are opportunities for closer working with Brighton on improving services to students or where there are good future academic opportunities that reflect common strengths of the two universities we will of course explore them. But Brighton and Sussex are very different universities with different missions and characteristics, and there are absolutely no discussions or plans for merger,’ the statement read.

Mr Lammy’s speech is also relevant because of the continuing battle the university management has had to fight to get through a series of unpopular reforms to its structure. In the same speech he also argued for ‘greater specialisation’ in universities with unsuccessful or unprofitable departments being closed down. He argued that management should have ‘choices about withdrawing from activities, choices which may be uncomfortable ones for those who have grown used to thinking about a traditional model of university’.
In the last year the Education Not for Sale (ENS) campaign was set up at Sussex to fight the “marketisation” of higher education (the perception that education is becoming a service to pay for rather than a universal right). The campaign was setup by students and staff in an attempt to resist changing the white paper set out by the management and culminated in mass protests at the end of the last academic year. Adam Farrell, USSU’s education officer and active in ENS, said ‘It is exactly this specialisation that we are fighting against. It [specialisation] didn’t work for secondary school academies and it’s not going to work for higher education. Specialisation does not favour academic diversity and restricting academic content is not the best way to stimulate innovation. If higher education was properly funded then subjects could be taught on academic worth not on financial viability’.

It appears though that the government will continue to push the agenda towards efficiency, and in the credit crunch the chances of the mass investment Farrell demands are diminishing. The financial uncertainty that Sussex faces may make the management less likely to resist pressures to move towards closer integration.

This year was the first year that the Students’ Unions of Sussex and Brighton had held a joint freshers’ ball, the largest in the country. Similarly the Brighton and Sussex Medical School is a joint project between the two universities and has been a success. In the past, discussions of closer collaboration have always been hampered by the Universities different academic expertise and experience.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
538 views1
Campus News
538 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
76 views
Arts
76 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
110 views
Arts
110 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
108 views
Arts
108 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
133 views
Arts
133 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
149 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
159 views
Arts
159 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
152 views
Arts
152 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
246 views
Campus News
246 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
117 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
231 views
Arts
231 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
150 views
Arts
150 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
223 views
Artist Focus
223 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
159 views
Interview
159 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
224 views
Arts
224 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
252 views
Arts
252 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
289 views
Arts
289 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
202 views
Artist Focus
202 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
215 views
Books
215 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
269 views
Science
269 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
274 views
News
274 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…