Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up – 25 May 2018

wlgaWelsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Conference ‘Local Government Preparing for Brexit’.

The WLGA’s Brexit event was an opportunity for Welsh local government to hear from partners in health, higher education, business and the third sector about the key issues facing them and how local government can work with them going forward. The Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Chair of the National Assembly for Wales’ External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee also attended, to brief Welsh councils on the latest developments and answer questions.

Addressing the conference, Mark Drakeford spoke of the Welsh Government priorities for the next phase of Brexit, with protecting economy, jobs and communities central to negotiations. He also highlighted the importance of EU funding and frameworks for Universities in Wales.

Speaking at the event, Political and Public Affairs adviser Beth Button noted the importance of European funding, frameworks and partnerships for universities in Wales, and highlighted the sector’s priorities, including EU student and staff recruitment, student mobility, and the future replacement of EU funding.

Bridging the Gap Social Mobility Summit

social mobility On Thursday 24 May, Universities Wales attended the Bridging the Gap Social Mobility Summit. The event was supported by the Open University in Wales and the Welsh Government and provided an opportunity to explore the issues affecting social mobility in Wales. The event included keynote speeches from the former Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, the Right Honourable Alan Milburn, and the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM. The Cabinet Secretary reaffirmed her commitment to the civic mission of universities in Wales and outlined her ambition to increase the number of Welsh students studying at master’s level and the number of Welsh students taking advantage of international opportunities., Kirsty Williams also unveiled five tests to help measure the government’s success on delivering on social mobility over the coming years.

Westminster Hall debate on Brexit and higher education in Wales

Between 4pm and 4.30pm on Wednesday 23 May, Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams held a Westminster Hall debate on the effect of leaving the EU on the higher education sector in Wales. During the debate, Hywel William and several other MPs raised concerns about the possible implications of Brexit on research funding for Welsh universities, and its effect on EU staff and students at these institutions.

Stuart Andrew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Wales, responded by repeating various commitments which the government has been made to ensure that universities can thrive following withdrawal from the EU.

The whole debate can be read on Hansard.


brexitWelsh Government Response to Recommendations from the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee Report: Wales’ Future Relationship with Europe

The response was followed by a debate in Plenary on 23 May, the transcript of which can be read here 

UK Government publishes paper on post-Brexit research and innovation collaboration uk goVT

On Wednesday 23 May, the government published a new paper on its vision for a future UKEU partnership on science, research and innovation. This presentation is one of a series produced by the UK negotiating team for discussion with their counterparts in the EU. The paper restates the Prime Minister’s commitment to negotiating a ‘new, deep and special partnership’ with the EU following Brexit, going on to set out the specific advantages of continued collaboration on research and innovation. It also outlines the government’s commitment to participation in Framework Programme 9, with an ambition for ‘appropriate level of influence on the shape of the programme’ wider than that offered to current non-EU countries.
The sentiments of this paper echo commitments in a speech made by the Prime Minister at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank on Monday 21 May, though this also covered wider issues related to the government’s industrial strategy. The whole policy paper can be read online here.

UUK welcomes Prime Minister’s commitment to next EU research and innovation programme

Universities UK has welcomed the Prime Minister’s comments that she would like to see the UK associate fully with the EU’s next research and innovation programme.

Responding to the speech, Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Universities UK has called for the UK to secure participation, as a full associate country, in the next EU research and innovation programme and the successor Erasmus+ scheme. It was very positive to hear the prime minister confirm that is the government’s intention.

“International collaboration is essential to the success of research and innovation in the UK. The EU research and innovation programme provides a ready-made platform for collaborating with key European partners, including six of the UK’s top 10 research partners.”

UKRI Strength in Places Fund
Further details on the Strength in Places Fund were announced by UKRI on Mon 21 May. Led by UK Research and Innovation, the Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) is a new competitive funding scheme that takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, to support significant regional growth. Further information can be found in the announcement here.

In the media this week…


Unis Wales policy adviser Olivia Jones blogs for Wonkhe on what Wales needs from UKRI’s new strategy and what universities are looking for in the new governance proposals for research and innovation in Wales

BBC Wales

Wrexham Glyndwr University Deputy VC Claire Taylor appeared on BBC Radio Wales ‘Good evening Wales’ on Wed 23rd to discuss the commitment of universities in Wales to ensuring students receive the right care and support during periods of transition and whilst at university. The full interview can be heard from 1.35. Full Unis Wales statement on the story here .

Upcoming Events

innovation nation

Universities and colleges have always played an important role in their communities, bringing together towns and students, and connecting places and people. This event is an opportunity to celebrate how higher education providers have been pursuing their civic mission in recent years, and how they act as good corporate citizens both locally and globally.

At the event HEFCW will be introducing their brand new publication Innovation Nation: On common ground, showing some of the most innovative partnerships between universities and colleges and their communities. You will also have a chance to find out more about what higher education providers are doing in this significant area.

The event is sponsored by Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM, and we are delighted that we will be hearing from her at the event.

Wed 13 June 2018             Norwegian Church             18:00 – 19:30 BST 

Political Update

  • A number of academics gave evidence to the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee on Wednesday as part of its inquiry into Automation and the Welsh Economy. While a transcript is not yet available, written evidence was submitted by the Open University in Wales and Atkins.
  • Thirty years since Section 28 was introduced in schools in Wales, England and Scotland, Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced major changes to Sex and Relationships Education in Wales and its place in the curriculum. The Cabinet Secretary also made a statement on the changes during Tuesday’s Plenary.
  • Businesses in Wales are missing out on highly skilled people by not providing enough employment opportunities for disabled people, Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan has told an audience of Human Resources managers.
  • ​The countdown is underway to the establishment of a new Welsh Youth Parliament to “reflect and represent the voices and opinions of young people in Wales”. The Llywydd gave an update during Wednesday’s Plenary.
  • The Assembly’s research service has published an updated version of its timeline of Brexit negotiations.
  • The Cabinet Secretary for Education has been asked the following written questions:

Lynne Neagle (Torfaen): What discussions has the Cabinet Secretary had with universities in Wales about the implementation of Universities UK ‘s framework to improve the mental health and well being of students?