UK Chancellor George Osborne delivered his budget last Wednesday, with the key announcements for Wales including:
- Pledge for a North Wales growth deal and negotiations on a proposed Swansea Bay City Deal. These are in addition to the recently confirmed Cardiff Capital Region City Deal
- Halving of the Severn Bridge tolls from 2018
- Creation of a Port Talbot Enterprise Zone
- An increase of £370m in the Welsh Government budget over next four years
In addition, the Lloyd George Museum in Llanystumdwy is to receive £27,000 per year over three years from 2017/8; £500,000 is to be made available for CAIS Wales’s Change Step Veteran Services; and £497,000 for Action for Children Swansea’s SAIL project.
New NUSW President and Deputy President
The NUS Wales Conference 2016 was held at Principality Stadium in Cardiff last week. Over 100 delegates from universities and colleges across Wales met to discuss the future of education in Wales as well as to elect a new President and Deputy President.
- NUS Wales President: Fflur Elin (Fflur’s manifesto can be seen here)
- NUS Wales Deputy President: Carmen Ria Smith
Europe Matters to Wales: EU Policy and Funding Opportunities for Wales 2014-2020 – final report is published
The EU Funding Ambassadors published the final report commissioned by the Welsh Government with recommendations on how Welsh Government should increase it engagement with EU policies and funding programmes. The report follows a consultation period on an interim report published in December which had already indicated that Welsh Government should concentrate on a limited number of priorities. Universities Wales provided a response to this interim report which was broadly in favour of the draft recommendations. Some of the comments and suggestions made by Universities Wales were picked up by the Ambassadors in the final report such as the mechanism for reporting to Welsh Government on European activities in universities and the need for Welsh Government to consider input from universities on its priorities. The final report stresses the need for greater synergies and collaboration between Welsh Government and partners including universities, recognising the central role of universities in economic development and their social benefit to Wales. It also recommends that this collaborative approach is reflected in the activities of the offices within Wales House in Brussels which could include WHEB. The report refers to most funding programmes including Horizon2020 and Erasmus+ and has a section on the ‘Europeanisation’ and ‘Internationalisation’ of universities. Though commissioned by the current administration, it will be up to the new government to decide whether to implement any of the recommendations after the Assembly elections. To read the report please visit: http://gov.wales/funding/eu-funds/eu-programmes/?lang=en
Investment in energy research at Welsh universities
A £24m EU-backed investment in a world-leading energy research scheme at Welsh universities has been announced by Welsh Government Finance Minister and Government Business Minister, Jane Hutt. The FLEXIS five-year research programme, supported by £15m of EU funds and led by Cardiff University, will investigate how flexible energy systems can meet modern-day energy challenges.
The Frances Hoggan Medal – call for nominations
The Frances Hoggan Medal is awarded annually in recognition of an outstanding contribution to research in any area of STEMM research, by a woman, resident in Wales, of Welsh birth or who otherwise can demonstrate a particular connection with Wales. The first award will be made in May 2016. Funded by the Welsh Government, the medal fulfils the Society’s objective of recognising and celebrating scholarly excellence.
The medal is named in honour of Frances Hoggan MD (1843 –1927), the first British woman to receive a medical doctorate from a university in Europe, the first woman from Wales to qualify as a medical doctor and the first female member of a British College of Physicians.
The recipient will be actively engaged in research in the public or private sector, or industry. There are no age restrictions and those who have taken a career break are also eligible.
The call for nominations is now open, and nomination forms, criteria and guidelines are available from the Society’s website www.learnedsociety.wales. Anyone can nominate someone they think worthy of the award, but candidates must not nominate themselves. Completed nomination forms must be submitted by 8 April 2016.