The Welsh 'Gorge' in Higher Education

Excellent article by Professor Tony Chapman, Vice Chancellor of UWIC, in the House magazine.

His argument, reflected by all the universities in Wales I am sure, is that the government can’t keep asking Welsh universities to do more with less. Simply put,
  • the deficit in public funding of universities in Wales, compared to England, amounts to £70m a year
  • the size of the gap has grown to such an extent that it now represents 20 per cent of the total higher education budget in Wales, and equates to a shortfall of £1,000 in funding per student
  • the gap between Wales and Scotland is even greater: £150m per annum, or £2,000 less per student.
To close the gap, which is critical for ensuring Wales becomes a more prosperous nation, Tony suggests the following options:
  • Making a persuasive case for universities getting a larger slice of the Assembly Government’s overall budget, especially as for every £1 invested by the Assembly Government, the economy receives an output of £5.30.
  • Maintaining the absolute level of public funding in universities while reducing the volume of students in Wales, thereby engineering an improved level of funding per student, although the need for a workforce with a higher level of skills may pose a problem
  • Altering the level of public subsidy given to Welsh-domiciled students and introducing top up fees for students
Clearly, the decision is not going to be easy to make but it is one that has to be made soon. Without a vibrant knowledge-based economy based on higher skills and innovation, the Welsh economy will continue its downward trend. Universities are the key to reawakening the economy and they must be given the support they deserve.

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