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 Walesis
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 qualificationwhether
obtained in Wales or Englandis 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
policywhich is informed by the Furlong Reviewis
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 basisie 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 boundariesit 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".
Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning & Teaching)