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St. Joseph’s University and the University of the Sciences announced a potential merger last week to help both schools remain open. 

St. Joe’s President Mark C. Reed presented the plans to both institutions’ staff in an email on Feb. 10. Under the plan, USciences would become part of St. Joe's, which would keep its name, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The possible merger is part of a broader trend in higher education, as universities have lost out on room and board money during the COVID-19 pandemic and have faced pressure to lower tuition.

Both universities would maintain their separate campuses but combine faculty, administrators, and budgets under the merge, the Inquirer reported. Reed and USciences President Paul Katz signed a nonbinding letter of intent to examine effects of a merger and form an agreement.

Reed told the Inquirer he was thrilled about the call from Katz about merging St. Joe's and USciences last summer. The two schools will continue to evaluate the proposal through this summer and plan to implement it next year, pending approval from both schools and accrediting agencies.

USciences has previously struggled financially, leading it to partner with Salus University in 2019 to offer more degrees, the Inquirer reported. Despite cutting tuition fees, undergraduate applications have fallen at USciences while acceptance rates have risen, Inside Higher Ed reported.

St. Joe's and USciences plan to merge is part of a growing trend of merging institutions. In October, the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education voted to move forward with a plan to consolidate six schools in the Pennsylvania state university system into two.