An innocuous four-letter word appears to have been responsible for the collapse of merger talks between Glasgow Metropolitan College and the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, which would have created an institution with expenditure of pound;45 million and 22,000 students.
The larger Glasgow Met had proposed it should be the "host" college, rather than the alternative model which would have involved dissolving the colleges and setting up a new institution. The Glasgow Met board approved the merger last Wednesday but, fearing this would be a straight takeover, the nautical college board sunk it two days later
Candy Munro, chair of the board of management at GCNS, said that, while they remained committed to "the vision of a merged college", there was not yet "a sufficiently compelling case for merger".
She added they would need clearer aims and objectives for the new college, agreement on its name and "clear milestones" for harmonising staff terms and conditions and for establishing management structures.
The proposal that the new college should be called Glasgow Metropolitan College incorporating the Scottish Institute of Nautical Studies did not go down well with the nautical college staff.
But Tom Wilson, principal at Glasgow Met, who would have taken charge of the new college, said he believed there were sufficient safeguards for the two colleges. These applied at board level to ensure neither was dominant, and to the staff who had been given pledges of no compulsory redundancies as well as the retention of existing terms and conditions. "I regret that we have not been able to go forward together," he said. "The merger plans are dead for the foreseeable future - unfortunately so."
At least one contributor to the "Keep the Naughty Nautical" blog was relieved. "The takeover would have had a devastating effect on the nautical college, staff and learners," he wrote. "The Met would do well to get its own house in order before blundering through another take-over. Staff turnover is high, and job satisfaction is lower than the retention rates for most of the courses."
The two institutions will continue to work together as partners in the pound;300 million project to establish a "super campus" for further education in Glasgow. This includes the Central College of Commerce and Stow College.