UK Gov plan to limit number from England going to Welsh unis ‘deeply concerning’

Cardiff University. Picture by Stan Zurek

Universities Wales has said that it is “deeply concerned” about UK Government plans to limit the numbers of students from England coming to university in Wales.

Wales’ Education Minister Kirsty Williams said tonight that she has written to the UK Universities Minister Michelle Donelan expressing her worries about the plan.

The UK Government is expected to announce next week that they are capping numbers at universities in the face of falling recruits from overseas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Kirsty Williams revealed today that they were also considering limiting the number that could study in Wales.

A recent report from Wales Governance Centre showed that Welsh universities faced losing between £84–140 million in the coming academic year from losses in fees alone – before any cut in English student numbers.

A spokeswoman for Universities Wales said: “[The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales] is currently consulting with the Welsh sector on an approach to admissions in Wales to maintain stability, in line with the four-nation approach that had been proposed. 

“The foremost priority, at this time of uncertainty, should be that those students who wish to access higher education this autumn are able to do so.”

 

‘Surprising’

In a letter sent to Michelle Donelan, the UK Government Minister of State for Universities, Kirsty Williams said capping the numbers that could study in Wales “not in the best interests of the UK as a whole”.

“I am deeply concerned that you have chosen to place a control on Welsh institutions rather than work with the Welsh Government to achieve a solution that is compatible with devolution,” she said.

“I do not believe this approach is in the best interests of the UK as a whole, and demonstrates a surprising unwillingness to respect complementary policies in each nation.

“I will consider the consequences for Wales arising from the UK government’s policy and take further action to ensure that those interests are protected.

“My decision about how to progress will be based on what it is right for Welsh students and Wales as a whole.”

‘Over-recruitment’

A spokesman for the UK’s Department for Education said that the aim of capping numbers was to protect students and universities from the effect of coronavirus.

“We want everyone who achieves their entry requirements to be able to go to university and these measures are a vital part of ensuring this, while avoiding harmful over-recruitment among providers which could go against the interests of both students and universities,” the spokesman said.

“We will shortly be setting out further details on how the student number controls will be implemented, including how they will work in the devolved administrations.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said it was not up to England to tell Wales how to work out student numbers.

“We are not implementing controls on students going from Wales to England, but all options are on the table if England don’t respect our decision making,” they told the Western Mail.

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WelshfanEifionK. KWrexhamianSibrydionmawr Recent comment authors
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Mike Murphy
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Mike Murphy

Wales should provide funding only to Welsh students studying in Wales. End subsidy for Welsh students studying in England.

Royston Jones
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Welsh universities have become bloated degree factories divorced from their local communities and from Wales as a whole. Too many going for quantity over quality just to keep the money coming in. A little slimming down and refocusing will do them no harm at all.

Mathew Rees
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Mathew Rees

We need to go back to 1 University of Wales with campuses specialising in certain subjects.

I was lucky enough to start university in 2003 when fees were £970 a year. If I was 18 now I would avoid university like the plague.

Sian Ifan
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Sian Ifan

I agree with Jac again and of course what about the English students who stay behind and settle i n Y Fro Cymraeg but does that matter as our country goes to hell on a bus? Gethin. PS: Just why does Jac use that photo, it’s not he i s it, who is he hiding from?

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

He was thinking of using yours but he reckons you not quite so pretty !!

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Fifty- seven years ago a Welsh university made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – even though I’d never before especially thought of pursuing higher education in Wales.

The experience was so positive that I stayed here for a decade and a half to work after graduation, only left because of family complications back home, and returned here in retirement. I’d be sad to see that opportunity denied to others.

K. K
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K. K

I don’t think the decision is necessarily anything sinister but may be more a case of economics. Thanks to the wonderful decision to move university education to a fee based model a number of universities in England face bankruptcy as they have high debts. I don’t know what the contrast is in Wales but I know that Cardiff Met is easily the best run university and makes a profit every year. I agree with Royston to an extent with regards to the quality of degrees on offer and their suitability for employment afterwards. It’s better to have quality over quantity… Read more »

Sibrydionmawr
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Sibrydionmawr

A well paid job for how much longer though? AI is coming, and it will replace most jobs and most people will become part of an unnecessariat. Yet there is no government preparation for this, and essentially our society, economy and education system is still geared to a world of work little distinguished from that of the late 19th century in many ways.

K. K
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K. K

I think that whilst AI will have some impact it won’t be anywhere as widespread as people think. They stated in the 1960s that thanks to technology we would be working four day weeks yet over half a century later people are still overworked and underpaid. I think there will always be well paid jobs available such as science, engineering etc. but I take your point that some jobs will be replaced. You only have to look at how the postal service and food industry has used AI to sort and deliver the necessary items to people.

Aled Jones
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Aled Jones

Is this another Whitehall power grab from the devolved governments? It is bizarre that civil servants and their political masters and mistresses have to be constantly sent to Devolution 101. They still flunk that particular class time and again (if they’re ever paying attention!).
KW is in charge of HE policy here, but she has always said that she is willing to work on a 4 administration basis. Why is that so difficult to comprehend?

Jonathan Gammond
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Jonathan Gammond

It would be a very retrograde step to prevent students from going on the courses most suited to their needs and aspirations. This is a delicate balance of course content, the location of the university, its ethos and values and a host of other factors. Considering the financial costs of studying at university, you don’t want the buffet turned into a fixed menu, unless the best chefs are involved.

The policy reeks of government ministers at Westminster thinking they know best and trying to present their half-baked plans as faits accomplis, see also their response to covid-19.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

As recently as 20th May this site published an item raising alarm about funding of universities in Wales. Now this. No doubt the demented P.R machine is out there working itself into a frenzy in an attempt to protect these sacred cows. Well now’s the time to cull the rubbish, the sham academic endeavour, the pseudo science etc etc. We have a nation, like the rest of U.K, that lacks basic numeracy, offers relatively poor literacy and core skills that enable entry into the world of work. Not much point feeding young people through an academic system until 21/22 and… Read more »

Welshfan
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Welshfan

There are racist signs everywhere denouncing the English and not wanting them to come – I’d be surprised if many English students, on seeing these will be comfortable to come to Wales anyway. One minute people are saying that we should stand on our own two feet – Welsh businesses not run by or for the”colonial power”; the next minute, so soon as a policy comes in that means less English money there is a panic. Can’t have it both ways!!

Wrexhamian
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Wrexhamian

That would certainly be the best-case scenario in the Bro Gymraeg universities, both of which should be giving priority/first refusal to candidates from Wales as part of a policy to prevent further settlement from England (as per Sian Ifan’s comment above). Jesus College, Oxford has a policy of accepting a certain percentage of Welsh students in each year’s new intake. Aber and Bangor could go one stage further and make their intake majority-Welsh.

Do not attempt to present “the English” as the victims of “racism” in your attacks on Wales. It’s highly insulting.

K. K
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K. K

I’ve been involved in education at three Welsh universities and I have never seen or heard any anti English prejudice. English students will continue to come and I know most have enjoyed their time in Wales owing primarily to the people and the lifestyle which is slower paced compared to other universities elsewhere. It isn’t the end of the world and Westminster would be wise not to throw the baby out with the bath water as English students may decide not to go to university at all especially if their options are limited.

Eifion
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Eifion

Englandfan ti’n feddwl

Welshfan
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Welshfan

No Eifion I’m a Welsh Fan, I’m just not delusional!! We need English money for the time being. It will takes decades to build our economy to the point where we can be independent. Until then, we need to stop focusing on why outward investment is bad and start focusing on how we can grow what at the minute is an economy which without tourism is on its arse!!