Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up – 23 March 2018

downloadUniversities UK research into the economic case for flexible learning in higher education

Universities UK is working in partnership with the Confederation of British Industry​ (CBI) to gather views from the employer perspective, and is working with an advisory group chaired by Professor Julie Lydon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Wales and chair Universities Wales to gather evidence on the learner perspective. The project will look at the current student funding system in England and consider whether there are areas of best practice that can be drawn from the devolved administrations

New sector body Advance HE launched

Advance HE, the new sector agency to be formed from the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, was announced this week– after the three agencies signed the documentation to effect the merger. The body’s purpose is to advance the professional practice of higher education to improve outcomes for the benefit of students, staff and society. Advance HE has been created to be “of and for the sector” and is jointly owned by GuildHE and Universities UK.


Unis Wales consultation


1. Universities Wales’ response to the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee’s consultation on the apprenticeship levy

2. Universities Wales’ response to the Welsh Government consultation into regional investment in Wales after brexit.

Political Update

  • All parties apart from the Welsh Conservatives voted in favour of the Law Derived from the European Union (Wales) Bill earlier this week. Meanwhile, the First Minister issued a written statement reporting on his meeting with Theresa May as part of the Joint Ministerial Committee. The Assembly’s research service has also published a briefing outlining the latest development in connection with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.
  • The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee briefly discussed the Education (Student Support) Wales Regulations 2018 during their meeting earlier this week. They are currently considering the Welsh Government’s response to some of the issues raised in connection with the legislation.
  • The Welsh Government has launched a new employability plan, which aims to eliminate the gap in unemployment and economic inactivity rates between Wales and the UK average within ten years. The plan can be read in full here while the Minister’s Plenary statement in is available here. Meanwhile, the Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning also issued a written statement announcing the development of a new strategic direction for youth work in Wales and the creation of a Youth Work Board.
  • The Economy Secretary, working with the Cabinet Secretary for Education, the Leader of the House and the Minister for the Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, has ordered a review into digital innovation that will also consider artificial intelligence and automation.
  • The Cabinet Secretary for Education has been asked the following written questions

Lynne Neagle (Torfaen): What steps is the Welsh Government taking to ensure that students from Wales continue to benefit from the Erasmus Plus programme after Brexit?

Kirsty Williams: The Welsh Government’s position is clear that we would wish to retain access to Erasmus+ as set out in our White Paper Securing Wales’ Future. The future of access to this and other EU programmes is subject to the negotiations with the European Union being led by the UK Government.
My officials are working closely with the UK Government and other partners to ensure Welsh interests are protected as far as possible.
The Joint Report agreed by the UK Government and the European Union in December 2017 stated that the UK would continue to contribute to, and participate in, existing European programmes under the current Multi Annual Financial Framework.This means that, subject to the “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” caveat, the UK will participate in Erasmus+ until the current scheme ends in December 2020.
The position on UK participation in the successor Erasmus+ scheme from January 2021 will form part of the negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. In her speech on 2 March, the Prime Minister indicated a positive view on future UK participation in educational programmes with the EU.

Universities Wales at Plaid Cymru Conference
This weekend Universities Wales is at Plaid Cymru conference and will be hosting a fringe with the Learning and Work Institute. The focus of the fringe is how Wales can respond to the changing world of work and the challenges of automation, and the role of lifelong learning in this.

The conversation showcase:

Articles published by academics at Welsh universities this week

Six ways to get teenagers more active – suggested by the teens themselves (Swansea – new research)

The passion and the beauty: why Easter music will send a shiver up your spine (Cardiff Met)

Some easy fixes for Russia’s flagging economy – if only politics didn’t get in the way (Cardiff)

We’ve located the part of the brain which understands social interactions (Bangor – new research)

Six common misconceptions about meditation (Bangor)

Vladimir Putin re-elected: how to understand the Russian president’s view of the world (Aber)

Trump take note – why Singapore’s claim that the death penalty works for drug offences is fake news (Swansea)