Beida and Qinghua universities are to forge closer ties by recognising each other's credits and exchanging professors in a move aimed at better utilising their resources. However, a senior professor at Beida said the universities would never fully merge. 'Vice-Premier Li Lanqing has suggested the idea of 'one city, one university' to ensure the best use of education resources, but it is unrealistic.' Vice-president of Qinghua University, Professor Hu Xianzhang, agreed, saying: 'Beida and Qinghua will never merge as both want to preserve their strong culture and characteristics.' Under the new initiatives, the two top education institutes will, starting next month, allow students to take courses at each other's departments. They will exchange professors and their library resources will be linked. 'We believed co-operation between the two universities was the best means to promote ourselves into world-class universities,' Professor Hu said. 'Qinghua will still have special emphasis on science and engineering subjects, but students are encouraged to take liberal arts or philosophy subjects at Beida,' the professor added. He said Qinghua was in negotiations to merge with a medical school in Beijing and was strengthening its own economics and arts programmes. Beida, on the other hand, will merge with Beijing Medical School and Aviation Industry University. 'During former education reform in the 1950s, the emphasis was to have politically correct and technically sound students,' Professor Hu said. 'But the reform spirit in the 1990s is to have students with 'comprehensive qualities'. 'Besides boosting co-operation with Qinghua, Beida also wants to upgrade the arts faculty to an arts school and introduce sociology subjects to broaden students' knowledge,' the professor said. Beida will cut 30 per cent of its personnel from its payroll this year, with administration staff to go first, followed by teaching staff. 'The cut has certainly upset many staff. Laid-off intellectuals should be handled carefully since they can be a source of instability,' Professor Hu said. 'Many are demanding a fair assessment process to ensure that no one is ordered out because of weak personal connections or political reasons,' he said. Qinghua, which has already cut 3,000 teaching and administration staff since 1978, will continue to cut 20 per cent of its non-teaching support staff from its 6,700 workforce this year.