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Case for merger goes to senate

The proposed merger of St Andrew's College with Glasgow University faces its first public test next week when the plans are debated by the university senate, writes Willis Pickard.

Particular attention will be paid to the way in which Catholic education would be protected and the effect on the university's academic autonomy.

The senate, followed by the university court and the college's board of governors, will consider responses to a consultation document, "The Case for Merger". Under the timetable the merger will go formally to the Secretary of State in January.

The college is to become a faculty of education in the university, alongside 11 other academic units. Its dean will be elected, but he will work with a board of Catholic education whose convener will be an associate dean responsible for initial teacher education and acceptable to the Church though nominated by the dean.

The board "will protect the distinctive ethos which supports the professional education of teachers for Catholic schools" The merger will create "academic synergy" according to the consultation paper, but it will also ensure "financial viability in a period of continuing economic constraint".

In time, the Bearsden campus of the college will be sold and the faculty of education will be housed in a new building at the university's Gilmorehill.

An issue in the merger talks has been the position of the university's education department. The consultation paper says that there must be further discussion about its position with the professional studies department of St Andrew's or other parts of the faculty.

The university senate will be concerned about the effect of the merger on the periodic national assessments of research activity, which dictate crucial levels of funding. Under the proposals more college staff will be encouraged to undertake research.

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