Whether considering full merger or a federal model, institutions need to demonstrate how they reached a position on preferred partners and course of action. In some cases there may be a range of possible partners, while for others there may be only one.
Previously institutions may have taken a lengthy period to undertake an options appraisal to determine the likely suitability and potential success of merging with different partners. In the current context of post-16 education and the regional agenda for college provision and funding it is likely that there will be a clearer picture on appropriate partners. Local circumstances may indicate the obvious partner(s) to pursue.
It is still advisable that an options appraisal is completed and the outcome clearly noted in the merger proposal. It is equally acceptable for the options appraisal to be completed by the institutions themselves or by an independent appraiser. Where options are very limited and clear, there is no need to spend public money on an independent appraiser. The key is that it should be robust and consider a full range of options, including the status quo. In exceptional circumstances a fuller options appraisal may be required. SFC will discuss this with institutions.
This guidance was developed in 2012 and will be reviewed.
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