NCAD and UCD in talks over possible merger
The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) has entered into talks with University College Dublin over the possibility of a merger of the two institutions.
If the move goes ahead it would change the status of the art college, the origins of which date back more than 265 years.
NCAD director Declan McGonagle confirmed the college had begun exploratory talks with UCD but said no decisions had yet been made.
“We’re in discussions about a merger,” he said. “We’re only at the beginning of that discussion and we’re looking at all the implications of it.”
The issue of a possible merger and the relocation of NCAD to UCD’s Belfield campus first arose in 2006 and sparked angry protests from many staff members and students at NCAD.
The move was eventually abandoned.
Relocation not on agenda
However, Prof McGonagle said relocating to UCD was not on the agenda this time.
“Neither UCD, nor ourselves or the HEA [Higher Education Authority] are contemplating any physical relocation. It’s not feasible and it’s not being looked at,” he said.
He said staff and students would be kept informed as the talks progressed.
If any merger went ahead, he said, it would still be possible for NCAD to retain its “corporate identity”. However, he pointed out that talks were still at an early stage.
The merger talks follow a review commissioned by the HEA that proposed consolidating many of the State’s 20-plus higher-education colleges.
Any formal merger is likely to have implications for the 130 staff at the college.
It could also bring into question the future status of other third-level art colleges such as the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology and the school of art, design and printing at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
The discussions about a merger began in recent weeks, according to well-placed sources, and are likely to continue for several months.
UCD and the NCAD have latterly forged a close working relationship. Two years ago they began an academic alliance that resulted in the colleges working together on teaching and research in areas such as art history and cultural policy in UCD and visual culture in NCAD.