Reforming higher education in Wales
For those (like me) who are not always aware of what is happening in the Welsh university system, there are some current developments worth noting. Yesterday the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, announced his legislative programme for the coming year. This includes plans for a Higher Education (Wales) Bill, which will have the following purpose:
The Higher Education (Wales) Bill will provide the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) with a robust regulatory framework within which to operate to ensure quality of higher education and provide assurance about the financial health and governance of higher education providers and the quality of their provision. It will also enforce fee controls and to safeguard equality of opportunity for those accessing or intending to access higher education.
This announcement follows the Welsh Government’s recent Policy Statement on Higher Education, published last month. This set out a number of objectives for the system, including more ambitious research goals, a greater focus on access, better integration between higher and further education, and a drive to ensure that innovation in higher education benefits economic growth.
It will be interesting to see how the proposed Bill addresses the regulatory backdrop to all this. There have already been considerable structural changes in Welsh higher education over recent years, and it seems that further change may lie ahead.