Public Release: 

Cardiff universities to merge

3,000 new jobs projected

Cardiff University

The development of higher education and the knowledge based economy in Wales has received a massive boost with the announcement that the merger of the University of Wales College of Medicine and Cardiff University is to go ahead, backed by an investment package totalling more than £60Million.

Merger has won across-the-board backing among stakeholders of both institutions because of the overwhelming educational, economic and social benefits it will deliver. These include the further development of world-class teaching and research, the strengthening of the health service in Wales and the potential creation of 3,000 new jobs and a range of new high technology companies.

Rigorous business planning and analysis culminated in the Governing Councils' endorsement of the unification plan, which with substantial financial backing now secured, means that the Universities will forge ahead with merger in August 2004.

"This merger is based on strong foundations and ambitious but realistic aspirations," said Dr David Grant, Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University.

"We are very excited at the enormous benefits that the merger will yield not only for the University and its students and staff, but also for future healthcare provision and economic vitality in Wales."

Professor Stephen Tomlinson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales College of Medicine endorsed these comments, adding "There is huge potential for interdisciplinary research and education with investment in innovative collaborations, bringing together the Humanities, the Physical Sciences and the Biomedical and Health Sciences."

The merger of the two institutions is based on growth in capabilities and capacities. Together the merged University will be home to more than 20,000 students who will find themselves part of an exciting development with investment being made in high quality academic buildings, new laboratories, libraries and IT infrastructure. The investment plans include provision for additional research leaders to be brought to Wales who can bridge the research interests of the two universities and ensure the research focus and benefits in biomedical and healthcare areas extend from the laboratory bench through to the patient's bedside.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Welsh Assembly Government are backing the merger with a grant of up to £15Million both to fund the merger process and to facilitate the ambitious research plans that will bring major benefits to the Welsh economy. Further repayable assistance of up to £8Million may be made available by HEFCW to assist cashflow. In addition, the universities will make available at least £12Million from their own funds to support new staff appointments and capital investment. The last part of the investment jigsaw will come from funding from the UK Science Research Investment Funds and other sources to provide the infrastructure that will facilitate groundbreaking biomedical research at Cardiff.

"The Funding Council is delighted to back this hugely exciting investment in a prosperous future for Wales. We look forward to the merged Cardiff University bringing benefits that will ripple throughout the country as it pursues its international vision. It doesn't come much bigger than this in higher education. A great day for Wales", said the Chairman of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Professor Roger Williams.

The Governing Councils' decision to go ahead with merger is supported by the Welsh Assembly Government. "I welcome the merger decision which is consistent with our strategy for the sector," said the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, Jane Davidson. "Higher education has a vital role to play in realising our vision of a successful, capable, confident, healthy and prosperous Wales. I am pleased to be able to announce the Assembly Government's financial support for the Cardiff Merger, which clearly demonstrates the Assembly's commitment to funding reconfiguration and realising the benefits of collaboration. I look forward to further proposals coming forward from other institutions in Wales".

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