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UCL and IC(L) to merge?

Oct 14 2002 11:22
Oliver Pell
A shock Imperial College press release has raised the possibility of Imperial College merging with University College London.
A merger with UCL would hopefully produce a new source of photos for articles.

It?s quite short, as press releases go. Nevertheless, its either an April Fools joke that got delayed in the internet ether for several months or a very significant revelation about the future of Imperial College.

Imperial College and University College London have been seen as strong competitors in the past, with part of the reasoning behind the Save the Comma campaign being a strong desire to avoid the abbreviation ICL and the inevitable association with UCL. ?While UCL has a very high standing in the academic community,? notes the petition, ?we prefer to think that ours is higher ? and big enough to stand on its own.? Imperial?s press release today acknowledges that the colleges ?have competed and collaborated wherever it seemed appropriate.?

According to the release IC and UCL have decided, ?in response to opportunities in the globalisation of education and research, and to their interpretation of current Government policy in these areas, to embark on a collaborative process that could lead to the decision to merge these two Institutions into a new University, of great national and international significance.?

This correspondant is probably not alone in immediately picking up on the use of the word ?university? to describe the proposed new instutitution, suggesting that a merged IC/UCL would not remain part of the University of London.

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Discussion about “UCL and IC(L) to merge?”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Oct 14 2002 12:20

It's on the BBC website too, so it must be true. :-p

Oct 14 2002 14:10

OK, I'm finally speechless.

3. Sam   
Oct 14 2002 14:19

Praise be... Heeps is finally speechless!

4. kat   
Oct 14 2002 14:28

Well it looks like nobody told UCLU - not a sausage about this business on their website....mind you, that might have something to do with the fact that the most useful thing on it is the opening hours of the campus hairdresser!

Oct 14 2002 14:53

If Mustafa would be good enough to re-send me my login details, there may well be a 'Heeps on...' later today...

Oct 14 2002 14:57

stoic will be doing a live show to cover this story tomorrow from 12pm. We hope to talk to Sen Ganesh to get the union's opinions - if you have any comments or questions for Sen then post them here (we'll keep an eye on this thread) or e-mail us direct on .


Oct 14 2002 15:31

The newly-merged ICSM will presumably therefore be joining with the newly-merged UCH & Royal Free Med School over at UCL.

Surely the most pressing matter is the name for the new Medics' SU.

I propose the following, handy title: Imperial University College London of Science, Royal Free, Technology, University Hospital School of Medicine Students' Union Association. (IUCLSRFTUHSMSUA)

8. kat   
Oct 14 2002 15:35

Wow, amazing how catchy that is!

Oct 14 2002 15:56

not sure how they'll integrate departments

though. Share medical colleges? Double the capacity of computing students

and cram them into a single lab? Split up Physics and Chemistry students

across campuses? It just doesn't sound too convincing enough, though the

BBC coverage makes it sound frighteningly possible.

Oct 14 2002 16:15

And I was beginning to enjoy my retirement from ICU politics.

Oh well. Such is life.

Oct 14 2002 16:23

Mr Heeps is right, speechless is what comes to mind. The logistics are just astounding. Four former london medical schools into one, astounding. 700-800 in each year! We had enough beaucracy and rubbish organisation for just 290 of us. LSE would of been much more complimentary for merger.

Oct 14 2002 16:59

(Coffin opens)

Well this is interesting....i don't suppose this was in some minutes that Sen forgot to read as well? ;-)

I always though they were going to merge with LSE, but i guess not.

The question is, who is the senior partner in the merger - i.e. will ICU take over UCLU, will they bin all the dept.s that are inferior (e.g. engineering ones at UCL, arts at imper- oh maybe, just UCL departments then...)

I suspect Sykes wants a run at topping Cambridge (currently finacially in the sh1t), which he can only do by having some arts departments... you something to talk to Sen about at council anyway...

Oct 14 2002 17:03

Course I've only just read the new news item.

Bloody hell....anyone would have thought Sykes is trying to push anything past unsuspecting sabbs....

Oct 14 2002 17:15

extract from the rectors message to students

"I want to emphasise that the discussions are at a very early stage and are purely of an exploratory nature"

that's funny, because i heard through a friend of a friend who knows some stuff that according to one highly placed source, the talks have been on the cards for 2 months... how much of an early stage are we at now then?

15. yuting   
Oct 14 2002 17:58

Has anyone noticed the Rector used "Imperial College London" in his letter?

16. C!   
Oct 14 2002 18:39

Did you notice the rector used instead of

Oct 14 2002 18:49

Imperial and UCL announce they are going to merge. Sir Richard tables a request to College Council regarding fees.

And you still care about commas or domain names??? Please, let's have some sense of priorities.

18. Tim   
Oct 14 2002 19:01

I chose not to go to UCL coz they smell.

Now I am associated with them.....

Hey, Sen....have fun!!!

Oct 14 2002 19:27


Whilst having moved on to greener but colder places I couldn't help but voice my (probably unwanted) views on this one.

view 1) What the fuck. Is this really the first time anyone (dpew, president?)knew about this!

view 2)This is more than a name thing (clearly IU is the way;-)).

there is a strong possiblity <given past form> that the management consultants come in. Whilst it may be uneconomical to have staff in ucl and ic doing the same job, our education must take priority. Eg no libary merges. No loss in tutorial staff. No unnecassary travelling (at students expenses) between departments on different campuses. And please before we have this one next year- No increase on fees (don't let the wool get pulled over your eyes this is a comercial move motivated by comercial gains)

view 4) I don't see how this can solve the housing issue - it is the same (if not worse) for the bloomsbury bunch.

view 5)Dear council....

emergency council petition?

I hope Sen has already called for one.

The student representation should a)already have happened but importantly b)must have a strong united message. I am not at IC now, however I would urge you guys to be rapid on this.

In the imortal words of the doors... The time to hesitate is through


Oct 14 2002 20:17

Mark it in your diaries - 14th October, 2002: the day the University of London died.

How could it be anything else? With IC and UCL becoming one and leaving UL, the remaining colleges will see that in order to compete at all, they will have to essentially merge into one institution... King's/Queen Mary/Goldsmiths to become one? IC/UCL to swallow the Bloomsbury Colleges?

The response I'm most looking forward to is that of ULU... ULU's very existence is now under threat. I wonder if it is up to the task.

I presume that ICU and UCLU will be merged by the Act of Parliament. ICU is not a memebr of NUS. UCLU is. Fun coming...

Oct 15 2002 01:00

Yey I worked hard last year

Yey I got into Imperial

Yey I didn't even apply to UCL 'cause they are crap

Yey It's fun

Doh Imperial College of .... is to be called Imperial College London (ICL) from January

Doh Imperial is going to be merge with UCL next summer

Doh I could have spent last year drinking that wonderful Duff instead of revising for my A levels

Oct 15 2002 01:02

I meant UCL were not as good as Imperial rather than they are crap.

Oct 15 2002 01:20

1) Yes it requires and Act of Parliament;

2) UCLU were told by ULU about this

3) I have just forwarded the press statement which was waiting in my inbox to UCLU

4) It wasn't a secret

5) IC has just been wasting money...

6) over its own reorganisation

7) Do you really think students would be consulted?

8) There is more consultation in my colon than in any UL college

9) The NUS is the weakest link...

10) Goodbye!

11) Not quite...

12) The verdict: a good move for research and budgets... a bad move for learning, teaching and student representation

13) the CCUs are on the way back!

14) There is no Rule 6!

Oct 15 2002 15:02

What exactly is the point of the University of London again? I mean, if the colleges are essentially independent and there is very little (next to none) interaction between the colleges, then it seems to me that UL has no purpose. I say either that UL become a real university where all the different college's students have equal access to all of the other college's (and university's) resources or it should disband into smaller universities. ie. Bloomsbury colleges into the new UCL/IC.

25. Louise   
Oct 15 2002 15:12

Is it me, or do you think they are trying to deflect attention from the whole UCL Imperial merger thing which seems like it might actually happen by using the old chestnut about charging ?10,500 tuition fees. Call me cynical but...

Please someone tell me that the union is going to do something to kick up a fuss about this. UCL isn't even close to being in the same league as IC. My degree will mean nothing once IC loses its reputation. Do they not care about us students at all??? (sorry - stupid question)

Oct 15 2002 15:15

Good point....but it could conversely be that the whole merger thing is a smokescreen to introduce top up fees. Who knows??

27. Rob   
Oct 16 2002 00:30

Louise: I do hopr your Union will do someting about this...

Also UCL and Imperial make a nice merger, but one thing that people are forgetting is that no students we consulted about this (whether good or bad). That sucks. Personally I quite like the idea of havding a new University of London, getting rid of the shit....

All I say ask is why have I been wasting my own time sorting out thr Alumni stuff when there was someting up another sleeve...

Sorry, I forget...

Nothing matters...

28. Taffy   
Oct 16 2002 14:37

Well at least we may get some fit women at last

29. anon   
Oct 16 2002 15:57

Or, more likely, Imperial becomes the science campus, so it gets even more geeky.

And its not like there's anything stopping you from going to UCL now and TALKING to the girls they have there now...

30. spam   
Oct 16 2002 16:18

I think it should be

"The Imperial Owned University"

hang on... that shortens to IOU... how appropriate given IC's and UCL's recent and current financial status.

31. SKD   
Oct 16 2002 17:23

At least Imperial's living up to its name.

32. Alex   
Oct 16 2002 17:27

The implications of this merger go far beyond whether you'll be sharing your classes with UCL students. Perhaps you should pause in your ranting to consider the wider picture... the press release suggests that the respective councils of each university are choosing to follow Government recommedations on funding. If these, as everyone expects, are to introduce top-up fees for presitgious universities, then what we have in the combined institution is a guinea-pig for this new system of funding. You won't be worrying about who's in your lectures if this happens... you'll be wondering if you can afford the bus in to college, with fees of over ?10,000 being touted.

Oct 16 2002 17:39

You are only as strong as the weakest link. Period.

34. Alex   
Oct 16 2002 17:47

UCL Union have a section on their website about the action they are taking over the merger.

Oct 17 2002 10:20

Well, that was something I wasn't expecting... What happened to LSE???

Oct 20 2002 13:22

Here at UCL there is also a big discussion about it! My view:

1) I am in favour of a merger to create the top University outside the US (Budget of 700m pounds and research budget larger than Cambridge and Oxford combined!)

2) It would be a merger of equals:

UCL-Highest number of 5* departments after Oxbridge. Highest Budget of any European University (450m pounds) spanning all academic disciplines. 18 noble prizes.

Imperial-Excellent concentration on the sciences. 14 noble prizes.

3) IC and UCL Students would have more optional courses to take (remember they would not cram 700 people in a lecture theatre but rather split it up - as it is now - on a "Bloomsbury Campus" and a "Kensington Campus")

4) The synergies in terms of research co-operation would be immense. Some of the country's top scientists actively collaborating (noble prizes here we come...)

5) Finally: Top-up fees would never work if ONLY we would introduce them!!! Remember that!(i.e. everybody would go to Oxbridge, Bristol etc. for 1000 pounds) Hence not Sykes but the PM to will make the decision.

I am in favour of 3000 pounds of top-up fees for science students (since this is the gap which is not covered through government grants and by the way in Oxbridge they all have to pay College fees of 2500 pounds already and noone complains) while keeping the Arts subject at 1000 pounds.

6) sounds reasonable?

Oct 20 2002 13:39

If the merger were to go through:

1) call the new university:

BENTHAM University (Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Bentham).

Since that philosopher was instrumental in universities being established in London in the first place!

2) BRANDING that name would not be hard at all, coz all newspapers would write about the merger and the substance behind it could easily be distributed in an organized information campaign:

  • One of the top universities in the world:

(World leading in Medicine, Engineering Economics, Law, and Architecture)

  • Biggest Budget of any university outside the US
  • 29 5* departments in the UK (one less than Cambridge)
  • 32 noble prizes

Precondition for me thinking the merger to be beneficial to us students:

  • Fees of 1000 for Arts subjects. Fees only up to 4000 for "expensive" Science subjects.
38. poor   
Oct 20 2002 19:12

One problem Andreas,

Sir Richard Sykes will not be introducing differential fees for different courses if he gets the go-ahead, simply because this would then put people off applying to certain courses (eg medicine, where it cost ?250,000 to train each doctor, or lab-based science in general, which costs more to run as a course). Similarly, in medicine, the danger if that we will have a year of 700-800 who are all taught the same syllabus and so have to be lectured together, because otherwise the university will lose lots of government funding for the education of medical students if it decreases it's intake of medical students.

This is not a situation unique to medics, so I think it would be unrealistic to suggest that a year of 700 will never happen.

So in essence, everything you have suggested will not work....and I imagine that what you have suggested isn't even CLOSE to the realities of what IC and UCL are discussing.

Oct 20 2002 22:24

to reply to you poor:


1) Sykes will not make the decision about top-up fees it will be the government. Sykes can only lobby.

2) It is unlikely that the government will go for 10000, when 4500 has been found out as the upper limit by several studies.

3) Differential fees have not deterred overseas students. Oversees science students pay around 16000pa and overseas art students 10000. But both are coming...

Merged Departments:

1) Even if they were to decide that lectures were to be combined i.e. lots of students, the all-important tutorials would still be small (using profs from both institutions)

2) Otherwise what about a video link from one LT at IC to the one at UCL? (including asking questions)

Though i agree that i don't know what the current plans on the merged departments issue are. The above are only suggestions.

Concluding, i think that the benefits outweigh the costs!

Oct 21 2002 00:04

Both IC and UCL are well known in the UK but have little reputation abroad (at least at public level). And UCL is constantly mistaken as UCLA in the US. So I am in favour of the merger in principle.

However if we want a trully great university to rival Oxbridge or even the best in the US, we have to bring something that is really good. The 5* departments have no problems, but what about the weak departments - those performing badly in the RAE or having low A-level intakes? We must create an image of excellence across all discplines for our new university. SO we have to think carefully about whether to take all departments from UCL. Inferior departments can only ruin our profile!

41. Eddie   
Oct 21 2002 00:39

Andreas, et al,

"1) Sykes will not make the decision about top-up fees it will be the government. Sykes can only lobby."

Now, I seem to remember hearing that....

1) Sir Richard Sykes is a big important (rich etc.) man... the government has a history of listening to these more than some poor (literally) broke student.

2) Isnt he acting as a government advisor in these things? (*Some* people listen to advisors. or find advisors that tell them what they want to hear)

3) Is it likely that when he says "It is likely that the government...." he means "I asked my mates and they said they would...." (because he may well be involved in writing the bit of paper that says it on behalf of the government)

Oct 21 2002 10:02

from a business point of view, the two provost probably know what they are proposing, but i have my own reservations against this merger. i was from ucl, and have loads of friends from imperial. the two merged colleges would make a mega-huge science and technology university, and that, my friends, have implications on us humanities departments at ucl. people would be wanting to apply to ucl-ic uni for doing medic, sciences or engineering. arts and humanities departments will be pushed to one corner, swallowed by ridiculously huge science depts. ucl will lose it's identity of its mixed culture, and soon will follow suit into becoming mega geeky-nerdy-male-dominated universiy like imperial. ucl will no more be the fun-friendly-warm university i used to know...

besides the two locations of the universies are aboslutely ridiculous for students to go to and fro. it took me more than an hour to reach south kensington from gower street on any fine day.

i'm against it!!! imperial should merge with lse!

Oct 21 2002 10:34

"SO we have to think carefully about whether to take all departments from UCL. Inferior departments can only ruin our profile!"

The arrogant attitude of Imperial students such as yourself worries me greatly. This is a merger, not a take-over. Imperial does have an excellent reputation for certain disciplines, but UCL has an equally strong academic reputation in fields which Imperial doesn't cover at all - such as arts and humanities. The only way which this could be seen as a takeover by Imperial would be in the purely financial domain, as Imperial has a slightly better financial standing, although both institutions are troubled financially.

Frankly, Imperial Students should be looking forward to merging with a university which, let's face it, is a hell of a lot hipper. Imperial has (rightly so from my experience) a repuation for being full of uptight, nerdy, repressed geeky men. UCL on the other hand is reknowned for its cosmopolitan and liberal attitude. And kick-ass social programme. Oh, and we have girls. University isn't all about studying, you know. Oh... on reflection, you probably don't know that. Well, trust me, it isn't.

44. poor   
Oct 21 2002 12:10

Ummm, la Brown - who ios being arrogant now?

Imperial has at 35:65 split female to male now - it's not quite as geeky, nerdy or full of repressed males as you seem to think it is.

Also, this will be a takeover by IC simply because our recotr will become head, UCL have problems with debt AND appointing any kind of college leadership and Dickie Sykes probably sees UCL as an ailing company that it can take over and make money from. I am not saying it's true, I'm just saying that is how it looks.

Oh, and by the way, if IC is so crap why do you have to come to a discussion forum of and Imperial College CCU in order to get your point accross. The UCLU site not particularly effective? Thought so.

Go crawl back under the rock you came out from under.

Oct 21 2002 13:47

As far I can see it, there are several issues here.

Personally, I don't see any problems *in theory* with UCL and IC merging. Let's face it, we are both leading Universities in the UK and this merger will mean that we are the number one, no question. Maybe people will begin to then realise the world does not revolve around Oxbridge.

This childish bickering about which university is better is quite frankly ridiculous. Each university has its plus and minus points. Overall Imperial is better academically but that's not to say UCL is an Oxford Brookes. Anyone who thinks Imperial will be brought down by UCL couldn't be any more wrong.

Also, us merging has nothing to do with top-up fees. Imperial have been talking about this for some time and they will happen whether we merge or not.

However, what I find unacceptable is the lack of student involvement in any debate or decision making process. Without us, both Universities are nothing and I think it is insulting to not give us a voice other than us shouting/protesting for ourselves.

Do I think we will merge? Yes. Do I think it is a good idea? Yes.

Oct 21 2002 14:54

Yeah, I agree. Come on guys, grow up! It's impossible to compare the two institutions as their respective strengths are entirely different. It is, as Lucy Hodges wrote in the Independent, The "marriage (of) London's premier science institute with is most elite university".

Put your petty in-bickering aside as this will only divide a student body that will be the ONLY obstacle to really important issues over the next five to ten years.

Oct 21 2002 14:55

At last! Some return to sanity in this discussion. (Thanks Gerard!)

The key thing is to ensure that there is adequate student consultation so that the merger works well and we gain as many of the potential benefits as possible, while minimising the potential disadvantages.

As for those worried about UCL becoming more geeky (or conversely those of us geeks at IC who don't want our 'spirit' to be diluted by the arty-farty bunch) you should probably recognise that the geekiest departments (engineering, some sciences) will probably be based at South Kensington. With the more 'hip' stuff staying put in Bloomsbury.

Oct 21 2002 15:03

Oh, and Bentham University sounds plain crap. How many other top universities are named after tin-pot philosopher? Particularly one's whose strength is in science, engineering and medicine?

Sykes has already said he wants to call it University of London. If he can't get the UL name (which he probably will get in the end) he'll call it Imperial. In the mean time ICUCL is the snappy holding name.

Besides Bentham was not a founder of UCL. Read up on UCL's Bentham Project.

49. Seb   
Oct 21 2002 16:53

Can we seriously merge IC and UCL without having to have redunancies? Can we seriously simply add two overlapping departments together? I think not.

Nor do I think that the government will continue to supply money on that basis. If Imperial can be "punished" and not given more money because althpough it improved it's RAE score, it failed to improve above the national average rate, then I really don't imagine that a combined univieristy will get a research budget of the two former univerisities added together.

In theory it sounds a good idea, in practice I think it will be a ballsup.

50. anon   
Oct 21 2002 18:37

as u may have noticed i am from UCL - apart from finding some of your statements about UCL laughable, i would like to state that UCL students feel exactly the same about the merger and do not want to join with Imperial. Emergency meetings are being held but i would like to point out that we both seem to want the same thing here - to stay separate. This is not about education or prestige, its all about money. If any of us wanted degrees from Imperial we would have applied to Imperial.

Oct 21 2002 18:48

Thank you for having the audacity to speak on behalf of all UCL students.

Not everyone thinks that. In fact, I disagree with our current Union's stance. They seem to suggest that the main reason to oppose the merger is because we will have to introduce IC's idea of top-up fees.

Newsflash ... whether the merger happens or not, both Unis have already looked at and probably will introduce top-up fees.

Fight the merger on the issues; don't use it as something to blame top-up fees on.

Oct 21 2002 21:37

I quite agree. They are two separate issues. Imperial College Union's stand on top-up fees is very clear. As for the merger, we've just decided to put it out to a referendum and we'll take it from there.

53. Seb   
Oct 22 2002 13:42

I don't take such a defeatest view on top up fees, but I agree that it is stupid to conflate the merger and top-up fees issues. We end up comming across as a "small c" conservative rabble of disgruntled students that are only interested in general anti-authority stances for the sake of it.

Oct 22 2002 14:14

For those who would like to know what happened at the UCL Union meeting today ...

55. Dave   
Oct 22 2002 15:50

What I want to know is when will the world-beating Imperial Smith Kline (ISK) be formed?

56. Tim   
Oct 22 2002 15:57

Mustafa, in a technical way, we have to separate these 2 issues.

But my dearest friend Rich seems to use UCL merger to divert the top up fees attention.

These 2 issues cannot be treated as 2 entities!!!

57. Andy   
Oct 22 2002 15:57

I'm all for the merger. If that means the down fall of the University of London then so be it. Imperial was planning to leave this outdated prehistoric federation anyway. It's completely natural, it's what Darwin described as "the survival of the fittest".

And another thing, why should students at the top London colleges (e.g. Imperial, UCL, LSE) receive the same degree as someone studying at one of the more crappy colleges?!

Closed This discussion is closed.

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