Royal Holloway and St George’s in merger talks again

The two universities first discussed uniting as a single institution in 2008, and say doing so would create a “compelling offer” to today’s students

Royal Holloway and St George’s – both member institutions of the University of London – are to hold further discussions on a merger.

The two institutions first discussed uniting as a single institution in 2008, but the plan was cancelled a year later.

Now the governing bodies of the Egham-based university and the South London medical school have announced they have “agreed to progress discussions, which began during the summer of 2021”, regarding a potential merger and will reach a final decision by the end of 2021.

“From positions of strength, a merger between Royal Holloway and St George’s will offer the possibility of a strong, dual excellence university, drawing on broad disciplinary strengths that will increase visibility, impact and international reach,” said Royal Holloway principal Professor Paul Layzell.

“A merged university will be able to offer more innovative, interdisciplinary, research-enriched learning and teaching, drawing on complementary disciplinary strengths, to meet future education demand, and support an outstanding student experience.”

Professor Jenny Higham, principal of St George’s, said the merger would offer “the potential to create a strong, research-intensive anchor university for the south west of London. In addition to being able to offer a broad subject mix, it will be superbly positioned for students in the area, and would represent a powerful regional collaborator for business, the public sector and the community”.

Prof Higham added that since the original merger talks were held, “the complementary nature of our discipline mix has grown stronger and the landscape of higher education has changed considerably.

“While there are challenges to work through, the compelling offer that a combined university would represent for today’s students, together with the significant opportunities evident in our discipline complementarity, validates our decision to reengage on the possibility of uniting our two universities.”

Both universities’ governing bodies will seek views from relevant stakeholders, including members of academic board for Royal Holloway and senate for St George’s, and their students’ unions. The merger discussions will be overseen by a joint governance group comprised of chairs and principals of both universities, members of their senior management teams, and representatives from each governing body.

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