Higher Education Wales, the representative body for the university sector in Wales, has today commented on the release of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales’s (HEFCW) Funding Gap Report for 2007/08, which shows that the deficit in public funding of universities in Wales, when compared to funding in England, increased from £40m to £61m. Commenting on the report a spokesperson for Higher Education Wales said:
“This report paints a stark picture of quite how far investment in HE has fallen behind England, let alone Scotland which has a yet higher rate of funding. In 2005, politicians of all parties agreed to take action on reducing the funding shortfall once clear evidence of its nature emerged. The time for that action is now.”
Ms Wilkinson continued:
“The shortfall in investment as of 2005/06 now stands at just over £60 million which, against a total investment of £325m, equates to 19% of the total Welsh HE budget. The gap is predicted to increase yet further in 2006-07 to almost £70m.”
“Yet indicators show that higher education is becoming more not less important to our economic wellbeing, with the HE sector contributing £2 billion a year to the Welsh economy. Moreover, the return on the investment in HE is high – for every £1 invested by the Assembly the economy receives an output of £5.30. At a time when the evidence shows that most net new jobs in Wales will be in areas where high level skills are the norm, a policy of underinvestment in HE seems quite counter productive”.