Friday, 19 December 2008

Lampeter University to link up with Carmarthen

It's now been over a week since it was announced that a place very close to my heart, the University of Wales, Lampeter, is set to merge with another West Walian education institution, Trinity College Carmarthen.

Having had time to digest the news and consider my feelings towards the move, as a proud Lampeter Theology graduate I thought I would blog my thoughts.

Although I have been away from Lampeter now for quite some while - indeed I had been out of Wales for two years until I moved to Cardiff this autumn - I must say this move didn't come totally out of left field to me.

Talk of a merger between Lampeter and Carmarthen has been doing the rounds for some time now.

With Lampeter’s financial problems and potential job cuts being spoken about since the summer, discussions about the two institutions joining forces have been taking place for months - and there was even talk of the possibility what the Western Mail described as a ‘Super-University’ between Lampeter, Carmarthen and the two Swansea universities.

After a meeting of minds between the governing bodies of both UWL and TCC last Thursday, it was agreed that the two institutions would look to form a new university.

The veritable paradise that is the courtyard of the Old Building, within the University of Wales, Lampeter. But what does the proposed merger mean for the UK's third oldest university?

As of the 2009/10 academic year, it looks likely that both Lampeter and Carmarthen will be under the same umbrella.

But what does this mean for the two colleges, and how will the link-up benefit each of them?

For a start, with Trinity College recently being awarded university status - having applied for it in June 2007 - a connection with the UK's third oldest university should give them an extra bit of prestige.

As far as Lampeter is concerned, having averted industrial action and job cuts in the summer, their governors hope a link-up with a bigger college in a larger town will help them not only make extra savings but offer their existing and prospective students added value.

However, not everyone is happy.

Their have been complaints to Ceredigion's local newspaper, citing about how a merger might detract from Lampeter's unique charm (although others feel this might be a blessing in disguise), whilst the Lampeter Society - the group representing the college's alumni - has announced it is against an amalgamation of any sort and wants to see UWL continue as an independent institution. They have the support of Lampeter Town Council as well.

So what does it mean to me? Other than it having pretty much knackered the review of the Uni I was writing for Starting University, on the face of it a closer relationship between the two colleges - if not a total merger - does seem to make sense.

When it's all said and done, if it’s done correctly it should ensure that departments and jobs are safe - and in the run up to Christmas, that has to be a good thing.

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