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UK Govt is starving Wales of higher education funding, Senedd told

14 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Mark Drakeford picture by Ben Birchall / PA Wire.

Siân Williams

Let there be “no doubt” Mr Drakeford informed the Senedd this week, “that Wales itself is being starved of the funding” that has supported the higher education sector in the past, “by the deliberate decision of the Conservative Government in London.”

The European Union funding for Research and Innovation in this sector will shortly come to an abrupt end. At the same time, Members of the Senedd were informed, Welsh universities are being forced to compete for a shrinking pot of funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body of the UK Government which directs research and innovation funding in higher education.

Mr Drakeford told the Senedd: “It is for UKRI to demonstrate that the initials ‘UK’ mean something in its title. The funds that it has at its disposal—and they are significant—need to be spent in all parts of the United Kingdom.

“But, with a UK Government that has re-centralised money to the centre (and) changed the rules of research funding, it is for them to demonstrate that they are serious about investing in the research capacity of institutions in all parts of the UK.”

Warnings

In the last round of European Union funding the Welsh Government was able to invest £380 million in research and in higher education in Wales.

However, that funding now “disappears entirely from Wales, placing 1,000 jobs in the research sector at risk,” Mr Drakeford said, echoing warnings recently given by four heads of Welsh universities to Welsh MPs.

On 24 May Nation.Cymru reported that Welsh university bosses told Westminster’s Welsh Affairs Select Committee that they face massive job losses and a brain drain of academic talent.

They said this was because the UK Government has reneged on its promise to fully replace European Union (EU) funding.

Plans for an advanced technology research centre in Sealand, Flintshire are being hampered by uncertainties within UK
Government about which one of its own departments is in charge of making decisions on funding, the Senedd was also told this week.

Mr Drakeford said that whilst Welsh Government is, “making some progress in our negotiations with the UK Government over that plan” it continues to be a struggle.

“The critical emerging technologies that will be taken forward when that centre is established have now been agreed—three priority areas: cyber-security, software engineering, and radio frequency technologies.”

In its last autumn statement, the UK Government committed £10 million to taking that plan forward. Since then, Mr Drakeford added, “It has been a bit of a struggle to extract from the UK Government a sense of the terms on which that funding will be drawn down, the timescales against which that funding is to be made available, and even which department is in charge of making those decisions.

“Is it the Ministry of Defence, which is meant to be the lead department, or is it in fact the Treasury, who are holding the purse strings?

“So, while the prospect of the Sealand centre is exciting, we are committed to it, I hope the UK Government is as committed as they were in the autumn, and, if they are, then they need to speed up the decision making so that we can get on and make that centre a reality.”


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Frank
Frank
11 months ago

If Mr. Drakeford knows for certain that Cymru is being underfunded, not only in education but for other things too, compared to the other UK nations should he not take his case to the High Court? This is not on!!

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
11 months ago

Stop this charade! Cymru rydd!

Gareth
Gareth
11 months ago

We are doing so well out of our membership of the UK, according to Mr Drakeford, insurance policy etc,one has to wonder what Mr Drakeford finds to complain about. Or is his blind loyalty to the UK ” trumping ” the needs of the people of Cymru.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
11 months ago

The European Union has always treated the nation of Wales with respect unlike the UK. We as a nation will continue to be exposed to under funding while we allow the UK to collect and take our tax payments. Then to remove Wales from the European Union and European single market for an English political problem – Not on ! It is clear this under-funding and under-representation will continue until we as a nation take control of our own future and destiny. Mr Drakeford, you now have no alternative but to remove our nation of Wales from this isolationist UK… Read more »

Neil O Neil
Neil O Neil
11 months ago

What a stupid thing to say…seen as wales voted to leave EU…to say the uk doesn’t help wales is laughable…let’s be honest England subs all of you lot in uk..and they never moan about it..they don’t even have their own parliament lol,no first minister etc..I’m Irish and in the EU and we want countries in the EU that give something.not expect handouts like you want. England welcome, nationalist Welsh and Scots not

Charlie Peel
Charlie Peel
11 months ago

Yes thats fine but our beloved Welsh government miss handled £155m which they gave back to Westminster due to their own incompetent handling of the funding. With these clowns its always someone else’s fault.
£30m to change speed limits to 20mph they’ve got money to waste. But no money for health. Hmm time for a new government me thinks !

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