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Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up – 8 June 2018

 

reid reviewMuch-anticipated ‘Reid’ review into Welsh research and innovation published.

The review of Government-funded Research and Innovation in Wales, led by Professor Graeme Reid, was published this week by Welsh Government.

The report makes three recommendations including the establishment of;

  • a new Welsh Research and Innovation Office in London to increase the visibility and influence of Welsh research;
  • an additional fund of £30m a year, to incentivise researchers to win greater funding from business and from outside Wales; and
  • a single overarching brand for its research and innovation funding to increase the visibility, coherence and impact of Welsh Government-funded research and innovation in Wales.

In an interview with Wonkhe, Professor Reid articulated his reasoning behind the three reccomendations; explaining how the current climate “offers the perfect opportunity to make a new start in “selling” Wales as a source of expertise, an engine of innovation, and a destination for public and private inward investment” 

Chair of Unis Wales Prof Lydon responded to the report’s publication, saying that “it is crucial that we listen to their advice and move to take forward these recommendations on such areas as quality research funding and the delivery of the full package of student and higher education funding proposed previously by Sir Ian Diamond.” 

Writing in the IWA, Prof Hilary Lappin-Scott (PVC for research at Swansea University and chair of the Unis Wales research network) speaks of the importance of the full implementation of the review’s reccomendations, to not only safeguard the future of Welsh research and innovation, but also “in doing so, to make Wales a more prosperous country for all”, arguing that “if we are to improve the economic growth of Wales, then funding for research and innovation is one of the most important levers we have.” 

Welsh universities in USA for NAFSA conference.

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Representatives from Welsh universities attended a large international HE conference in the USA last week (27 May – 1 June) as they aim to build on their global network of institutional partners. With 10,000 participants from across the globe, the National Association of International Educators (NAFSA) conference in Philadelphia is a major opportunity for Welsh universities to meet with existing and potential new partners from the USA and beyond to showcase what Wales has to offer both inside and outside the classroom.
Plus Aber Uni, Bangor Uni, Cardiff Uni, Swansea Uni, USW and UWTSD all took part in the conference and exhibition, meeting with hundreds of partners during the course of the week, whilst the Study in Wales reception on 28 May was a great opportunity to show to current and prospective partners that we are open and as keen to engage as ever.

UKRI Strength in Places Fund events

Led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) is a new competitive funding scheme that takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, to support significant regional growth.  UKRI held a stakeholder workshop in Cardiff on Thurs 7 June. All the information presented at this event is publicly available here along with the forms for submitting an EOI to this fund. A closed roundtable event, led by Welsh Government, CBI Wales and Unis Wales followed this event to discuss a Wales-wide approach to this fund.

Learnworkawards

 Inspire! Adult Learning Awards 2018

Our Policy Adviser for skills, Kieron Rees, attended the Learning and Work Institute Cymru’s Inspire! Adult Learning Awards on Wednesday 6 June at The Exchange Hotel in Cardiff Bay. Universities Wales was a member of the judging panel for the awards. You can find out more about the inspirational stories and the overall winner, John Spence of the Open University in Wales, here.

Finance Committee Stakeholder Event

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Universities Wales contributed to a stakeholder event organised by the National Assembly for Wales’ Finance Committee. The focus of the event was the draft budget for 2019-20, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and the potential impact of the loss of EU structural funds on Wales

Political Update

  • The Children, Young People and Education Committee is holding a roundtable event on 4 July as part of its inquiry into the ‘Impact of Brexit on Higher and Further Education’. Those interested in attending should send an email to SeneddCYPE@assembly.wales.
  • The Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning and Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport appeared before the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee earlier this week as part of its inquiry into ‘Automation and the Welsh Economy’. A transcript is not yet available but their evidence paper can be read, while a webcast is also available. Meanwhile, the Minister has written to the committee with further information on alternative apprenticeship completions.
  • The Welsh Conservative debate was held on ‘Urban Renewal’ and focused on their recently published White Paper, which contains a proposal to work with “Welsh Universities and the private sector to create a centre for excellence and research in energy storage and transportation in Swansea”.
  • The UKIP debate was held on ‘University Finance’, with their central argument being that too many young people are going to university. During the debate the Conservative education spokesperson, Darren Millar, claimed that FE was doing a better job at providing courses that provide the skills businesses need. However, he then went on to state that “I know, to be fair to Universities Wales and the universities that we have here, that there is some good work going on with the private sector in terms of trying to ensure that they’re meeting people’s needs, but, clearly, the evidence suggests that that work isn’t paying the dividends that it needs to”.

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, has been asked the following question during Wednesday’s Plenary:

Mike Hedges (Swansea East): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the economy of the Swansea bay city region? (Question 2; 13:354) In subsequent comments, the Member emphasised the economic importance of universities and said: “I ask that, in conjunction with the university, the Welsh Government looks to create both a business park and an entrepreneurship centre that will provide a founder and incubator platform for students, ex-students, young entrepreneurs and investors in the region”