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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 23:59 GMT
Bradford's image 'puts students off'
Bradford riots
This summer's riots has not helped Bradford's image
Fears that the reputation of Bradford is putting potential students off studying in the city have encouraged merger talks between its local college and university.

The West Yorkshire city was in the spotlight following riots by Asian youths in July and again earlier this month, when Asian youths attacked a vicar and tried to set fire to his church.

The riots of the mid-90s and this July and the attack in a church recently have given Bradford a very negative image

Professor Chris Taylor
Bradford University
Now Bradford College and Bradford University are considering merging into a new institution which would improve social inclusion, widen education access and support local industry.

The two institutions have been granted permission by the Higher Education Funding Council to embark on a feasibility study of any future collaboration.

The vice-chancellor of Bradford University, Professor Chris Taylor, said his institution had noted a slight decline in applications of 2% to 3%.

'Bradford factor'

A survey carried out for the university, of 500 UK-based students applying for degree courses, found many were put off by what they had seen on television and read in the newspapers, Professor Taylor said.

"People are well aware the city of Bradford faces enormous difficulties.

The aim is to create more opportunities for people

Martyn Spence
Bradford College
"The riots of the mid 90s and this July and the attack in a church recently have given Bradford a very negative image.

"Because of this - the 'Bradford factor' - many men and women do not consider applying to the university.

"It's a very sad situation because there is a great vitality about the area," he added.

And the courses offered by the university scored consistently highly in ratings, he added.

Martyn Spence, spokesman for Bradford College, said his institution was already very good at recruiting students from a wide variety of backgrounds, but joint projects would enhance students' experience.

"The aim is to create more opportunities for people to move from adult and further education right the way through potentially to doctorate level, and make it a smoother path."

Job losses

If the two institutions did merge, there would be implications for jobs among academic and support staff.

Professor Taylor said: "When we bring the two together there may be people who don't have jobs."

But he anticipated such issues would be resolved through early retirement and voluntary redundancy packages.

The move comes months after London Guildhall and the University of North London (UNL) announced plans for a merger, creating an institution with up to 25,000 students and annual revenues of up to 110m.

See also:

16 May 01 | Education
Universities plan to combine
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