Welsh Gov announces £65m of new funding for colleges and universities
The Welsh Government has announced £65 million of new funding to support further education, higher education and adult community learning.
The package includes £46m to help post-16 education and community learning providers reduce their carbon footprint and improve their digital connectivity.
The Welsh Government has said it is committed to reaching net zero by 2050. The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has also announced that all new school and college buildings will be required to meet net zero carbon targets.
Education providers will use the funding on innovative plans to improve their carbon footprints, as well as improvements to infrastructure, such as converting to LED lighting and increasing the number of electric car charging points.
New training materials will also be developed for college students to learn about net zero part of their training, adapted for the wide range of courses available in further education. For example, students on hairdressing or beauty courses may learn about the origin of the chemicals they use and disposing of them in an environmentally-friendly way. Students on construction courses will learn about renewable energy sources and retrofitting.
Funding will also be provided to help further education providers meet the increased costs of consumable materials, such as bricks and timber, which are used in many vocational college courses. The cost of steel, for example, is known to have increased significantly during the pandemic.
The funding will also be used to support post-16 learners in response to Covid-19, such as through mentoring and increased mental health support. This is in addition to £8 million announced last week to support further education colleges with meeting the cost of enabling in-person learning to continue safely, as well as a recruitment campaign to attract more staff to the sector.
£10m will also be provided for future research activity aligned to Welsh Government priorities at higher education institutions.
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “We are committed as a government to fight climate change. Our colleges and universities have an important role within the national effort to reach net zero, as major employers across Wales and seats of learning for workers who will apply their learning in high-skilled professions.
“Colleges and universities have worked tremendously hard in enabling learning to continue, while keeping students and staff safe.
“We’ve committed to provide £50m of additional funding for post-16 education in the next financial year. This includes a focus on our Renew and Reform programme and doing everything we can to enable our young people to reach their full potential.”
In response to the Welsh Government’s announcement of £65 million of new funding to help colleges and universities reach net zero, Amanda Wilkinson, Director of Universities Wales, said: “The Welsh Government’s announcement of additional funding for these key areas of university activity is very welcome and comes at a crucial time.
“The additional support for research activity will have a positive and tangible impact. It is vital that Wales is at the forefront of research and innovation including for the social, health and economic benefits that this activity delivers. In a changing world, these activities will be more important than ever.
“Similarly, the support for institutions to reduce their carbon footprint has come at a timely moment. Our universities have made a range of commitments to support net zero including setting targets for emissions reductions and ensuring these targets are visible on their websites.”