(English) Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up 20 February 2015

News – Welsh Government – Transfer of tuition fee grant and changes to remit letter

On 10 February 2015, the Welsh Government published a statement on its website on the Minister’s decision to transfer the fee grant. The statement reads:

“The Minister for Education and Skills is asked to agree to the following changes to its relationship with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW):

  • the drafting of a less strategic remit letter which will contain clearly defined instructions and requirements;
  • the drafting of revised fee plan guidance to prepare for the implementation of the HE Bill.
  • the transfer of the tuition fee grant monies from the HEFCW recurrent funding line

(BEL 4620) to the Welsh Government student support budget (BEL 4704 ALG)

The relevant powers are set out in section 68 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 and section 32 of the Higher Education Act 2004”.

News – First anniversary of the launch of Horizon 2020

At an event marking the first anniversary of the launch of the EU’s largest research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, Finance Minister Jane Hutt announced that two Welsh bids for Horizon 2020 funds totalling nearly £500,000 had been approved by the European Commission.

Consultation – HEA – Shaping the future of external examining

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) has been commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to conduct a major review of external examining arrangements in the UK. The review, which will report in May 2015, will assess if arrangements for external examining are fit for purpose, and what changes might be needed to guarantee standards in future. The report will inform the second stage of the Quality Assessment Review currently being undertaken by the funding councils. The HEA is conducting a survey of external examiners and of heads of quality, academic registrars and others who are responsible for institutional arrangements for external examining. The surveys close 6 March 2015. The HEA is also holding four regional meetings to gather the views of senior academics and those responsible for quality assurance and external examining. This includes one in Cardiff on 24 March 2015. Further information is available on the HEA’s website.

Publication – UUK International students campaign

Universities UK (UUK) has produced a set of materials to support universities in making the case for international students to local MPs, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, and other key local decision makers. The resource pack is on the UUK website. It includes:

  • The evidence about public attitudes towards international students
  • Key messages and facts
  • Social media tools
  • Suggestions for engaging local stakeholders
  • Links to resources which underline the significant economic impact that internationalstudents make.


Further information is available on the UUK website.

Latest statistics

Student Support Applications and Education Maintenance Allowances awarded in Wales have been published by the Welsh Government.

In the media

In the media HEFCW’s David Blaney warned universities in Wales could fall behind those in the rest of the UK unless the way students are funded changes.

Plaid Cymru’s Simon Thomas suggests targeting groups of students studying certain subjects to retain them in Wales after graduating.

The Learned Society of Wales has warned that the Welsh Government’s costly tuition fee policy is “unsustainable” and “damaging” to the university sector’s future prospects.