Part of the University of London confederation, St GeorgeÂ’s offers courses in medicine, biomedical sciences, health and social care sciences. It also has a direct affiliation with St GeorgeÂ’s Healthcare Trust, one of the busiest hospitals in the NHS, which operates from its Tooting campus.
The merger would create the third largest College in the University of London in terms of income, and would be home to a greater number of students than Essex, Surrey, Sussex and York. It would also bring a number of academic benefits by combining the Colleges collective expertise and reputation across the fields of biomedicine, science, social sciences, arts and humanities.
The Colleges would retain their own brand identities for everyday use, although it is thought a legal name would be given to the umbrella institution. St GeorgeÂ’s would retain a Principal and senior management team, as well as its Tooting Campus. Graduates would still receive a University of London degree, and many students will benefit from the pooled resources.
In a Question and Answer Document prepared for students, the College is keen to point out that both institutions Â“are committed to maintaining the advantage and cultures associated with smaller, campus-based institutionsÂ…while enjoying an infrastructure and investment capability that offers advantages of scope and scale.Â”
With the current economic situation and the ever-increasing number of institutions competing within the Higher Education system, smaller establishments such as Royal Holloway and St GeorgeÂ’s are being forced to limit what they are able to do. The merger would create a much larger institution and allow the University to apply for high profile funding initiatives.
The merger could even help reverse the current downwards trend in the league tables for Royal Holloway. St GeorgeÂ’s is in the top 20 institutions for student satisfaction, has excellent rates of graduate employment and, as a medical school, has naturally good student-staff ratios. This, alongside HollowayÂ’s excellent reputation for research, would hopefully see Holloway once again achieving its enviable position in the tables.
Many Holloway students are excited by the great potential for the University. However, questions have been raised about the future of the respective Student Unions of the institutions. In the Question and Answer document, it is clear that both SUs will be involved at all appropriate stages of discussion. Students will also be pleased to hear that Â“one of the key elementsÂ…will be working together to provide access to the facilities available at both campuses.Â”
In a Press Statement, Principal of St GeorgeÂ’s Professor Peter Kopelman, said he believed the merger would create Â“the place to work and study in LondonÂ”. Principal of Royal Holloway Professor Stephen Hill was Â“delightedÂ”, stating that Â“the combination and development of our strengths will create a new and internationally-recognised centre of excellenceÂ”.
The proposal came about after a Strategic Review Panel at St GeorgeÂ’s conducted a review of its options on how to remain competitive in an increasingly crowded and difficult market. These options included remaining a stand-alone institution, merging with the University of Surrey, or forming a more formal alliance with Kingston University and Royal Holloway as part of the existing SWan partnership.
However, over the summer the strategic panel formally asked senior staff at Royal Holloway to consider making a single bid, which would allow the two Universities to merge. This proposal was agreed to by RHUL, and on Tuesday 30th September St GeorgeÂ’s Council officially accepted Royal HollowayÂ’s bid.
In an email on Wednesday 1st October, Principal Stephen Hill informed staff and students of the plans, telling of how Â“a larger and more formally integrated institution would provide a powerful and attractive offer to prospective students through the greater range of opportunityÂ”. According to Professor Hill, the merger will allow the University to become Â“a major player in the higher education sector.Â”
The matter will be discussed before College Council on Friday 17th October, at which point it will be decided whether the merger will go ahead. If the amalgamation of the Colleges does take place, it is expected that the institutions will work closely on the plans over the coming 20 months. There is not expected to be any significant change for at least two years.