Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up – 29 March 2018

Welsh higher education representatives present at World Bank consultation event in Vietnam. vietnam

Two high level representatives of Welsh higher education this week attended a World Bank consultation event in Vietnam, providing input and expertise to support the development of the Vietnamese Government’s Higher Education Masterplan for HE.

The Masterplan will cover university governance, autonomy, quality, research funding and relevance to business and the World Bank is keen to involve international partners in the development process as it moves forward. Following the mission visit to Vietnam in November, the World Bank invited Welsh higher education to send representatives to the consultation event, and Jane Davidson and Rob Humphreys gave presentations of an overview of the Welsh system from the viewpoint of both the legislator and those being legislated.

The continued  long-term engagement with Vietnam is part of Global Wales’ strategic programme of work, with the countries establishing a system-to-system relationship, collaboration in research and opportunities for staff and student exchange.

Universities Wales and CBI Cymru partner to deliver breakfast roundtable on Industrial strategy. cbi-logo

On Wednesday, Universities Wales and CBI Wales bought their members together with Welsh Government in a joint event at Cardiff University to discuss the opportunities from the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The ISCF has been designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy. It will provide funding and support to UK businesses and researchers as part of the UK Government’s £4.7bn increase in
research and development over the next 4 years.
More info can be found here:

Universities UK publishes report looking at progress made in


tackling sexual misconduct and harassment affecting university students.

The new report Changing the Culture: One Year On – based on research carried out by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) – assesses the sector’s progress in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in implementing recommendations from the UUK Taskforce’s report Changing the Culture.

Growing Value Wales Report backs innovation deal for Wales ncub

A new pact between universities, business and government is urgently needed to speed up innovation in Wales, according to a report published this week.

Analysis published by National Centre for Universities and Business says Wales needs a shared sense of common purpose to quickly turn research into products, processes and spin-out companies that grow prosperity.

It argues a global shift towards data analytics, quantum computing and Artificial Intelligence, has sharpened the need to bind administrators, academics and entrepreneurs together to foster future prosperity.

Published by the Growing Value Wales Task Force – a group of experts established in 2016, ‘Making the Connection – a New National Innovation Compact for Wales’ calls for greater Quality Research (QR) funding from Welsh Government to bring ideas to market.

REF 2021 –
additional main panel and ref

sub-panel membership announced.

The appointments to the REF 2021 sub panel members and the additional main panel members have been published online. Welsh universities have representation on 3 (of 62) main panel members, 18 (of 284) sub-panel members for the criteria phase and 14 (of 313) sub-panel members for the assessment phase. There are also appointments from NRW and Welsh Government.

OU ‘Science behind the BBC Series’ lecture.

On Wednesday, the Open University and Learned Society of Wales partnered to present a lecture on the science behind the BBC Blue planet series. With contributions from the leading researchers on the series, the lecture provided an insightful, educational perspective on the science behind the themes

The conversation showcase:
Articles published by academics at Welsh universities this week:

Baby bottle propping isn’t just dangerous – it’s a sign of a broken society (Swansea)

Is it really 2018? The evidence suggests otherwise (Easter link – Swansea)

Achieving then failing in primary school is a sign of future teenage depression (new research from Wales-wide study – Swansea)

We’re mapping wartime shipwrecks to explore the past – and help develop green energy projects (Bangor)

Humanities and science collaboration isn’t well understood, but letting off STEAM is not the answer (Cardiff)

Arrest of Carles Puigdemont closes another chapter in Catalonia’s bid for independence (Cardiff) within the popular BBC TV series.

Political Update 

  • A report by the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee has called for continued participation in the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control; involvement in Horizon 2020 and any successor programmes; and continued participation in Erasmus+ and other educational mobility and student cooperation schemes. The ‘Wales’ future relationship with Europe Part one: a view from Wales’ is available to read in full here.
  • The Welsh Government has published the findings of a student income and expenditure survey.
  • Writing on the Institute of Welsh Affairs blog, Professor Karen Holford outlines the significant benefits of research work undertaken in Wales.
  • The Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning has been asked the following written question:

Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): How is the Cabinet Secretary working with Welsh Government colleagues to look at ways to reduce the proposed cuts to the post-16 education budget for 2019-20?
Eluned Morgan (Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning): The Welsh Government continues to set our Budgets against one of the longest periods of sustained austerity in living memory. The UK Government has consistently and persistently cut funding for public services. The Welsh Government’s budget will be 5% lower in real terms in 2019-20 than it was in 2010-11 – equivalent to £900m less to spend on public services, with our revenue budget 7% lower, some £1bn less to spend on front-line services.
If our budget had grown in line with the UK economy since 2010 we would have £4.1 billion more to invest in public services in 2019-20 than was available to us in our last Budget.
Building on work undertaken for previous budgets, we have undertaken a continual line by line review of budgets to establish how further reductions can be managed whilst continuing to reflect our priorities.Whilst difficult decisions have had to be made, our priorities for education in Wales remain unchanged and our published spending plans for 2018-19 and 2019-20 reflect this.
In recent years we have been encouraging more efficient delivery of post-16 provision via the work of Regional Skills Partnerships and local consortia. We have supported this with significant capital funding to create learning centres such as Deeside Sixth, Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone and Campus6 Pembrokeshire where appropriate.
At the same time, whilst the proportion of employers in Wales who provide training has remained relatively unchanged between 2011 and 2015 (fluctuating between 62 and 63 per cent), the proportion of staff trained in Wales rose from 56 per cent in 2011 to 64 per cent in 2015.In addition, employer investment in skills has grown faster in Wales than in the other UK nations, increasing from £1.6bn in 2011 to £2.1bn in 2015.
We will of course continue to work closely with all providers in the post-16 sector, and their respective regional skills partnerships and consortia, to try and find efficiencies that have the least possible impact on the learners in Wales, whilst looking at improving the skills of our staff, and work with Welsh Government colleagues to identify integration and collaboration across the organisation. This is in keeping with the Well Being and Future Generations Act.