Mergers of universities in the context of increased economic autonomy
Globalization, internationalization, mass higher education, integration and competition of universities enhance a necessity of development of a new higher education strategy to ensure university autonomy, while strengthening universities’ engagement in a regional economy by optimizing and concentrating all resources. University merger is one possible mechanisms of this process assurance. The essence of merger and collaboration terms is found out.
The institutional and system-level reasons for mergers have been defined. Reasons for activation process of mergers at the system-level are: efficiency and sustainability of higher education system, international competition (more stable and competitive institutions with high quality of higher education in the international community), division of labour. At the institutional level they are: university market position of in regional, national and international contexts, increased quality of higher education, and increased competitiveness of universities.
Among higher education institutions that are financially vulnerable, merger is a survival strategy. Among financially healthy institutions the aim of mergers is differentiation, performance enhancement, or in the expectation that greater size will yield cost savings through economies of scale. The types and kinds of mergers of higher education institutions are investigated. Types of mergers include: voluntary and involuntary, single-sector and cross-sectoral, two-partner and multi-partner, similar and different academic profile, mergers aimed at a federal or unitary structure. There are kinds of mergers: horizontal, vertical, diversification and conglomerate.
Features of mergers in Sweden, where this process is initiated «bottom up» and in Wales, where merger is initiated «top-down» have been analysed. It is necessary to make proper feasibility study, prepare a Memorandum of Understanding, conduct a due diligence of institutions, prepare a merger delivery plan and implementation strategy for successful merger implementation.
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