In December the Welsh education minister, Leighton Andrews, challenged universities to “adapt or die” when the changes to tuition fees come into place in 2012. Talks are currently planned between the members of the University of Wales alliance, University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC), Swansea Metropolitan University and Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen.
The move would make it the third largest university in Wales on student numbers, after Cardiff and Glamorgan, and if the other two members of the alliance joined then it would be the largest.
The Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCW) for Wales wants to half the number of universities by 2013 and this is seen as a way of strengthening higher education in Wales, allowing the currently individual institutions to share resources.
With the rise in tuition fees expected to increase the competition between universities, is it possible that some of the smaller universities and colleges in England will follow suit by pairing with similar neighbouring uni’s?
Oxford and Cambridge have already expressed a desire to charge at the top limit and the other Russell Group members are expected to do the same. A pooling of resources could make some newer universities more attractive to students and more competitive against some of the older more established HE institutions.
This may even enable them to take advantage of charging the upper limit of £9,000 by meeting the strict -but as yet unknown- government requirements that they may not have been able to do alone.