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A small North Shore arts college and Salem State University have ruled out a formal merger, the schools announced Tuesday.

After six months of studying a merger, the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly and Salem State said the transition would be too expensive and it would be too complex to operate a separate campus, they announced in a statement.

Financial pressures statewide and limited growth potential in higher education in general were obstacles to the merger, the schools said.

Patricia Maguire Meservey, president of Salem State, said the schools will continue to discuss potential collaborations that could benefit both schools.

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"The numbers just didn't work at this time," Meservey said in the statement.

Montserrat president Stephen D. Immerman said the college, which has about 370 students, is in good shape financially but is still under tremendous pressure.

"I don't think it's a surprise to anybody following trends in higher education that every small college, and many not-so-small colleges, are feeling the strain of changing demographics," Immerman said.

The Beverly college has explored other partnerships in the past and will probably explore more in the future, Immerman said.

Montserrat, founded in 1970 on the campus of the North Shore Music School, finished last year and this year with a surplus, Immerman said. Its expenses totaled about $14 million last year, according to tax documents.

Salem State has about 10,000 students and is one of the largest state universities in Massachusetts.


Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.