Research Fortnight published yesterday a story about the merger between Leeds College of Music and Leeds City College. I haven't seen this reported elsewhere so I guess it counts as a scoop, although LCM published a press release a month ago and the matter was also included in the published papers of the HEFCE Board meeting in July (I linked to this very paper myself here without commenting on the LCM issue so I certainly can't claim it...).
Unusually, the assets and liabilities of the dissolved college are not simply being handed to LCC, but are placed in a wholly-owned subsidiary company. Accordingly, LCM is still a separate going concern with managers and staff still in place as they were before the dissolution. This strikes me as a far better outcome for them than the pure merger which so often leads to asset stripping (see, e.g. Bretton Hall). Research Fortnight says that the company will also control LCM's degree awarding powers, so at first I thought that perhaps it is these powers that explain LCM's unusually effective bargaining, but it seems that LCM doesn't have degree awarding powers and awards Bradford degrees. So perhaps it was just the £6.6 million of SDF funding that LCM brought into the merger that did the trick. Or maybe LCC's senior managers are just very nice people.
Andrew McGettigan comments further on this story here, placing it very firmly in the context of privatisation. I've commented on his blog post and hope he'll explain his view more because on the face of it this seems implausible. As a charitable private company limited by guarantee, the new Leeds College of Music Ltd cannot have share capital or distribute profits which, to quote Wikipedia, 'makes this type of company unsuitable for commercial enterprises'.