Wales

Aberystwyth uni chief looks at closer Bangor links

The new vice-chancellor of Aberystwyth University says she is prepared to look at the possibility of working more closely with Bangor University.

But Prof April McMahon said she hoped the university would first be given an opportunity to show what it could offer on its own.

The Welsh Government has backed plans that would see many higher education institutions merge.

Prof McMahon took up her new role this month, moving from Edinburgh.

"I believe it's absolutely right to say that there's been too many small institutions in Wales," she said.

"Now, if you are asking me if Aberystwyth is one of those, then clearly I have a strong view that we can be a healthy and sustainable and certainly large enough university."

Education Minister Leighton Andrews supports plans to reduce the number of Welsh universities from 10 to six.

Prof McMahon said Aberystwyth University had been asked to look at a possible merger with Bangor over the "longer term".

"It would only be reasonable to look at all the possibilities but I would like to see us given the opportunity to show what we can deliver while maintaining two very important and quite different brands for the universities of Bangor and Aberystwyth," she added.

Attracted controversy

In May, Aberystwyth became the first Welsh university that would increase tuition fees to £9,000 next September.

Prof McMahon had not started her new job then but was part of the decision-making process.

Her appointment as vice-chancellor attracted controversy at the time because she was not a Welsh speaker.

The university did not specify the new vice-chancellor should be able to speak Welsh, but the successful applicant was expected to learn the language to a modest standard before starting work.

But Prof McMahon, a Scots speaker and linguistics expert, has made significant progress with learning the language over the past seven months.

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