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Georgia approves merger for public college system

It is being called a "historic moment" by the Georgia University system Chancellor, as the state's board of regents approved a plan to consolidate Georgia's university system. The merger intends to reduce costs and the number of institutions in the system, down to 31 schools from a previous 35.

With the state of Georgia amid budget cuts, the public college system in the state has lacked the financial support to operate at an optimal level - especially with rising enrollment. Roughly $1 billion in budget cuts have hit the university system over the past four years. That prompted the merger which will curb administrative costs, though officials would not say exactly how much money will be saved by the move.

Despite the drop in institutions, the merger will not actually shut any schools down. Rather, the schools will combine administrative functions to reduce the total number of institutions.

The merger has been criticized by some, and it has raised operational concerns in the coming weeks, months and years for the Georgia public college system. The associate vice chancellor echoed such a sentiment. "It's going to be messy," she said. "There are issues we are not even aware of yet. It will take us time to sort through the issues."

This unprecedented move is a major change for the public college system in Georgia. There are many issues yet to be resolved, and there will be negotiations and organizational plans that need to materialize to allow the system to function as smoothly as possible both during and after the merger.

Source: Deseret News, "Ga. Regents approve college mergers at meeting," Dorie Turner, Jan. 10, 2012

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