Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up – 23 February 2018

Unis Wales response to the UK Government’s announcement of a review of student finance and university funding in England 

In response to the UK Government’s announcement of a review of student finance and university funding in England, Amanda Wilkinson, Director of Universities Wales, said:

“Today’s announcement of a year-long UK Government review of student finance and university funding in England comes at a time when the Welsh Government is implementing the recommendations of Sir Ian Diamond’s independent review of higher education funding in Wales. Universities Wales continues to welcome the implementation of the Diamond Review recommendations including the introduction of the new maintenance package for Welsh students.

“This maintenance package offers the most progressive, generous package of maintenance support in the UK and is a result of the Diamond Review’s findings that living costs are the main barrier for those deciding whether to go to university.

“Whilst education is devolved, there are UK-wide implications for the decisions made by the UK Government in relation to higher education in England. We would expect the outcome of this review to be informed by the experiences of Wales and take into consideration the impact that the review’s recommendations would have on universities across the whole of the UK.”

Open letter from Universities UK to USS scheme members over pensions dispute.

Universities UK has published an open letter​ to members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) scheme, highlighting the position of employers in the dispute over pensions.

The letter – signed jointly by the President of Universities UK Professor Dame Janet Beer and Universities UK Chief Executive Alistair Jarvis – states that employers ‘entirely understand the concerns of university staff’ about the future of the scheme and that staff members taking part in strike action will not have taken the decision lightly.

The letter reiterates that Universities UK remains open to further talks with UCU on the long-term sustainability of the scheme. It says: ‘Universities UK, as the representative of employers, has been in talks with UCU throughout 2017, and we have met more than 35 times since the start of 2017 to try to find a way forward’. It adds that ‘if a credible, affordable proposal were to emerge, even at this late stage, we are confident that employers would want to consider whether such a proposal could form the basis of a way forward’.

The letter invites scheme members, during the upcoming consultation process, ‘to take the opportunity to put forward any proposals you feel may not have been sufficiently considered’

Women’s Suffrage Centenary Grant Scheme – ‘Celebrating Women in Wales’women

Under the Women’s Suffrage Centenary Grant Scheme, Welsh Government will provide grants of between £500 and £20,000 to third sector organisations, community organisations and community groups, for projects and/or events which will mark the 100th anniversary.  All applications should be submitted in line with the instructions on the application form by Friday 16 March 2018. It is intended that organisations will be notified of the outcome of the grant application process by Thursday 29 March 2018.

2018 Inspire! Adult Learning Awards in Wales is now open for nominations!learning

The Inspire! Awards celebrate the achievements of exceptional individuals, projects and organisations who have shown outstanding passion, commitment and drive to improve themselves, their community or workplace through learning, often in the face of difficult circumstances. The awards are co-ordinated by Learning and Work Institute in partnership with Welsh Government and other supporters.

The Award ceremony will take place in June in Cardiff as part of the celebrations for Adult Learners’ Week 2018, the largest celebration of adult learning in Europe.


Individual Awards

Into Work
Young Adult
Life Change & Progression
Health & Well-being
Ageing Well
Starting Out – Welsh beginner
Different Past: Shared Futures
Project / Group / Organisation Awards
Community Project
Closing the Gap
Skills at Work

For information on how to nominate and for details of last year’s winners, visit the Learning and Work Institute website 

Upcoming events:

  • UUKi International Higher Education Forum 2018: thriving in a shifting global environment. 

14 Mar 2018, 09:30 – 16:30, Nottingham Conference Centre.

With Brexit fast approaching, British universities are scenario-planning for a future which is hard to predict. Their international counterparts are likewise navigating shifting geopolitical sands.​The aim of our sixth International Higher Education Forum, this year under the theme thriving in a shifting global environment, is to help universities develop the strategies they will need to flourish in this context. We’ll hear from experienced sector professionals, government, and senior representatives from UK and overseas partner organisations. We’ll explore trends, new developments and hear from university leaders about how they craft strategy during this period of unprecedented uncertainty. Please see more information about the event, and book here.


  • UUK: Innovation and excellence in teaching and learning 2018.

20 Mar 2018, 09:30 – 16:30, Woburn house​​​.

A national one-day conference to examine innovative teaching and learning practice, and what we really mean by ‘teaching excellence’. Produced in partnership with the Higher Education Academy, this conference will bring together experts, policy influencers and innovators to examine how universities can shape their learning and teaching strategies to deliver excellent and innovative teaching and learning. Please see more information about how to sign up here


  • In partnership with CASE, Universities UK will be holding its Political affairs in higher education forum 2018

 Woburn House on Thursday 19 April 2018.

This event provides a unique opportunity for policy and public affairs professionals working in higher education to discuss the most relevant issues currently facing the sector, and to gain insight about how universities and academics can play a meaningful role in shaping policy and influencing legislation. Bookings are now open – please see more information about how to sign up here.

Political update: 

  • The Cabinet Secretary for Education has agreed to reprioritise funding within the Higher Education Divisional budgets for financial year 2017-18.
  • The Welsh Government has launched a consultation into proposals to add organisations and bodies to those able to nominate members to join the Education Workforce Council.
  • Statistics on student support applications in higher education and Education Maintenance Allowances have been released.

In the media

Unis Wales provided a comment to a BBC story on plans to review tuition fees in England.

The conversation showcase:

Articles published by academics at Welsh universities this week:

Looking forward to things is good for you, so plan for your next treat (Aber)

Martial arts can improve your attention span and alertness long term – new study (Bangor)

Four historic moments when sport and diplomacy collided (Cardiff Met)

Seven climate change myths that big oil continues to perpetuate (Cardiff)

How 1950s parents were forced to fight for children with cerebral palsy’s right to education (Swansea)

Meet the new ‘renewable superpowers’: nations that boss the materials used for wind and solar (Swansea)