Cross-border provision of public services for Wales: Further and higher education - Welsh Affairs Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC)

  The purpose of this letter is to provide evidence on behalf of UWIC to the Welsh Affairs Committee's inquiry into the provision of cross-boarder services for Wales.

  Higher Education Wales (HEW)—which represents the interests of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Wales—is providing the inquiry with written information on behalf of the Vice-Chancellors and Principals of all the HEIs in Wales. UWIC endorses HEW's response to the inquiry. UWIC's response is therefore largely confined to exemplifying general points raised by HEW.


  Data produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) show that in 2005-06, Welsh Higher Education (HE) is under funded by £61 million compared to England. UWIC might expect to receive an additional £5 million in council funding each year should this gap be closed. UWIC's income in 2005-06 was £60 million. The funding gap matters because it is only a matter of time before under investment will be evident to students and other stakeholders.

  Divergent approaches to the level of public funding provided to HEIs in Wales and England will affect student recruitment patterns. While some students may prefer to study locally (and some may have no other practical choice), many have the capacity to be highly mobile. 28% of UWIC's students come from England; 12% are overseas students. This "business" could easily be lost to HEIs in other parts of the UK should prospective students perceive Welsh HEIs as having sub-standard learning and teaching facilities. Furthermore, there is the prospect that more Welsh domiciled students (which account for 56% of UWIC's student population) would look to study outside Wales.


  UWIC is the largest provider of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in Wales. With some specific exceptions (eg the training of Welsh language teachers), a teacher training qualification—whether obtained in Wales or England—is entirely portable from one country to the other. The mobility of students in selecting where they wish to study, and their future employment choices, means that there is considerable level of cross-boarder flow amongst ITT students. Consequently it would be logical for authorities responsible for ITT in Wales and England to undertake some aspects of joint planning, and for there to be consistency in some key areas of policy.

  The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is operating a policy of contracting the volume of students ITT courses. The policy—which is informed by the Furlong Review—is predicated on an assumption that there is an overprovision of teacher trainers by Welsh HEIs. Between 2004 and 2010, the number of places for trainee primary teachers in Welsh HEIs will be halved to 575. However, England will be increasing the number of places in its HEIs by 1,770 in 2009-10.


  The funding councils in both Wales and England wish HEIs to develop their knowledge transfer activities for economic and social benefit. Both funding councils operate funding streams to promote and facilitate this activity, and both encourage collaboration between HEIs. However, the funding schemes are designed to operate on a national basis—ie Welsh HEIs are not able to participate in the Centres for Knowledge Exchange (CKE) supported by the English funding council. This fails to recognise the reality that economic activity occurs across UK political boundaries.

  There are 22 such CKEs in England, each of which comprises a number of HEIs operating in partnership. The regional focus of this approach is not geographically defined in relation to English local government boundaries—it is recognised that HEIs should combine as they are best able to engage with businesses, many of which themselves operate across different England regions. In cases where there is a significant degree of economic overlap between Wales and England and/or where there may be significant benefit to facilitating greater integration between neighbouring regional economies (eg West England/South East Wales, North West England/North Wales), it might have been relevant to allow the possibility of partnerships involving both Welsh and English HEI to have been constructed.

  Whilst recognising the legitimacy and need for the Welsh and English funding councils to operate their own funding arrangements, there is scope for one to "buy into" a scheme designed by the other. As the Chief Executives of both funding councils act as observers on each others Board, there should be scope for such opportunities to be identified before funding arrangements have been "set in stone".

Jacqui Hare

Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning & Teaching)

May 2008

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 16 January 2009