The closure of several small Welsh universities sparked different reactions from within government, after the Education Minister Leighton Andrews announced the plans in June. Whilst some ministers have seen the move as a step forward – a smaller number means a stronger few, and there would be no decrease in student numbers – fears have been sparked over whether the move denotes centralization, rather than democratization.
However, the fundamental point here is that there should be a free market, not a state-sponsored monopoly, in higher educational establishments. The comment of the vice-chancellor of Swansea University, “Merger is a no-brainer if as a result you get better delivery for students.” hits on the right end, but not on the right means. There should be no restrictions on mergers, but neither should there be any barriers to new entrants. It should not be for the state, by central planning, to decide on it; it should be for the market.