The success of the restructuring process of the Higher Education Institutions in South Africa, as well as that of the restructured system, depends to a large extent on the availability of administrative and management abilities and skills. These skills are in short supply. Concerted efforts should be made to develop the competencies needed to reconfigure the fragmented system and ensure well-functioning higher education institutions for the future. Research indicates, however, that mergers have not resulted in the expected benefits This study describes the typical effects of the merger process on the people involved and identifies the crucial role that human resource professionals must play in ensuring merger success. The central purpose of the study was to identify those factors in the merger process that led to ‘merger syndrome’ and discussions on how to manage the ‘merger syndrome’, conflict and change brought by and during the merger process. This research further aims to identify areas that could be used to determine the training needs for managing comprehensive institutions and to help improve managers’ ability in those areas of management.