Law school alliance ends in spite of merger speculation in Glasgow

A partnership between two Scottish universities that share a joint graduate law school is being broken up despite discussions over a potential merger between the institutions.

The Glasgow Graduate School of Law is a joint venture between the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde, which pool their facilities and expertise.

Now Glasgow has announced that, from 2011, the university is to withdraw from the graduate school, with both universities to offer postgraduate provision independently.

The decision goes against the grain, with many departments in the institutions having chosen to work more closely together.

Preliminary discussions about a closer relationship between or even a merger of the two universities are understood to have taken place.

In a statement, the University of Glasgow said that it had decided to withdraw from the school "after many years of close and productive collaboration" with Strathclyde.

The decision was made to review its law provision in the light of new arrangements for postgraduate education of law students set out by the Law Society of Scotland, it said.

The university added that the "far-reaching" changes to postgraduate training had led it to conclude that "we wish to offer this training independently".

"In our judgment, this will enable the university to offer the best possible opportunities for training in the interests of both our graduates and the legal profession," it said.

Although Strathclyde did not perform particularly well overall in the 2008 research assessment exercise, both universities' law departments were rated as five star, or "world leading".

A source close to the universities said: "There is mounting speculation about merger. Exploratory discussions have taken place about the institutions looking at much tighter collaborative working, so (this withdrawal) certainly moves in the opposite direction."

In a statement, Strathclyde said that the change "will enable both universities to move in new directions".

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com.

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