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Staff fail to halt London merger

The merger of London Guildhall University and the University of North London will go ahead in a fortnight despite votes of no confidence in its two leaders and the absence of a financial director.

Some 97 per cent of the 194 staff who voted in a poll at LGU run by lecturers' union Natfhe earlier this month were against merger.

Ninety-five per cent said they had "no confidence in the skills and motivation of Roderick Floud (provost of LGU) and Brian Roper (vice-chancellor of UNL) to manage such a complex task".

From August 1 the merged institutions will be known as London Metropolitan University. Professor Floud, who this week began a three-week holiday in Australia, will be vice-chancellor and chief academic officer, while Mr Roper will be chief executive and accounting officer.

Staff at LGU are concerned that the business plan for London Metropolitan relies on recruiting more students. The original plan was to stabilise student numbers this year and to increase them in future years.

But 14 per cent fewer applications had been made to UNL through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service at the end of May than in the previous year. At LGU there were 10 per cent fewer applications.

Max Weaver, deputy provost of London Guildhall, said: "We are forecasting a surplus of 2.1 per cent and have substantial assistance with restructuring from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The budget includes substantial contingencies to enable the university to cope with any difficulties that emerge during the coming year."

Greg Barnett, a Natfhe representative at LGU, said: "We have many misgivings about the whole process." As well as the business plan, the union is concerned about job losses and the speed with which academic programmes are being combined.

LGU's director of finance, Nicholas Maude, has been on extended leave for the past month and will not return until after the merger. A spokeswoman for LGU said: "Nicholas Maude will return to a senior role in London Metropolitan University in August."

Interviews for a new director of finance for the merged institution will take place on July 26, just five days before the merger.

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