It was a short engagement, about five weeks to be precise. Now plans for a marriage of convenience between University College London (UCL) and Imperial College, two of Britain's most respected universities, have been scrapped for the time being, after an unprecedented revolt led by academics.

In a tersely worded statement earlier this week, Sir Derek Roberts, acting provost of UCL, announced that a formal merger was off but that "a number of areas for future collaboration" had been identified.

Another version of Roberts' views appeared in the Guardian newspaper on Monday, in which he was quoted as saying: "An enormous amount of antipathy and ill feeling has been generated by various groups. I am quite disgusted and amazed at some of my colleagues."

But several academics accused of spoiling plans for what was touted as Britain's first "super-university" have told The Scientist why they opposed the merger. It...

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