Businesses can often gain by merging and leaders are on the lookout for good opportunities. Colleges can also sometimes benefit from merging, but public officials are less inclined to look for prospects.

In the University of Georgia system, however, mergers and consolidations have been rather common, with benefits for state taxpayers and for students. In today’s Martin Center article, Anthony Hennen explains what’s going on in the Peach State.

Colleges can save serious money on duplicative costs by merging. Hennen writes:

Schools can take those cost savings to lower student fees, or invest the savings in hiring more tutors and advisors to help students graduate on time, like the Georgia system did. Merging two schools might look like it only has an effect on faculty or administrators, but students can benefit if the institution prioritizes them.

Georgia is a state where the stars were in alignment for college consolidation. In other states, however, institutional opposition has prevented progress. But officials who are serious about cutting costs and improving student services should keep trying.

Hennen concludes:

Consolidating a state system appears to have some big advantages. It can provide a check on unsustainable university ambition and delivers some important benefits to students if done right. If a large system like Georgia can do so, other states should be asking themselves what they’re doing wrong.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.