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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Merger forms regional university
Professor Seamus McDaid
One proposed name is the 'University of the West of Scotland'
The University of Paisley and Bell College have formed Scotland's largest modern university in a 21.2m merger.

The university has more than 18,000 students across campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley.

It has a planned investment programme of more than 160m and is expected to provide higher education opportunities to people from all backgrounds.

The merger also means Lanarkshire now has a university with the power to award degrees.

The institution claims to have the country's largest School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery.

Academic chiefs hope the size of the university will make it "more sustainable" and the investment will result in benefits for the campuses, making them better placed to meet the challenges of the competitive higher education sector.

We aim to have a transformational influence on the economic, social and cultural development of the west of Scotland
Prof Seamus McDaid
Principal and vice-chancellor

A spokesman for the university said providing local access for more than 40% of Scotland's population would make it ideally placed to respond to the demographic challenges of an increasingly ageing population.

The merger is expected to lead to the extension of current degree and postgraduate courses at Bell College in Hamilton.

Developments to the university's Ayr campus have been planned to a value of 71.2m.

Professor Seamus McDaid, principal and vice-chancellor of the merged institution, told BBC Radio Scotland he was delighted the merger had gone through.

'Create efficiencies'

The title of the institution is currently the University of Paisley, but according to Mr McDaid the privy council has agreed a change of name to the University of the West of Scotland.

He said the change is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

"More than 50% of our student population is based on campuses outwith Paisley, it doesn't make sense to continue with this name," Mr McDaid said.

Asked how the merger would affect jobs, he said: "There will be changes in staffing profile and curriculum over the next few years, but we will be larger in the adminstrative side and we will be able to create efficiencies there.

"There will be one principal and one finance director."

The cost of the merger, which includes significant support from Scottish Funding Council, is estimated to be 21.2m over the next three years.

The new university covers four campuses

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