Cuts ‘threaten research and training’

Higher education cuts 'threaten research and training'

Students taking notes

World-class research and NHS staff training is under threat from higher education budget cuts, bodies representing universities have claimed.

It comes in evidence to AMs examining the Welsh government's draft budget.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) claimed cuts would put many courses at risk, while Universities Wales warned of a growing funding gap with England.

The Welsh government said it was up to HEFCW how it allocated its funds.

Performing arts degrees, medical schools, part-time students and Welsh-medium tuition were among the areas for concern highlighted in submissions to the assembly's finance committee.

HEFCW said although total spending on education and skills was set to increase, proposed cuts of almost a third to its own funding "threaten to undermine Welsh government priorities for securing economic growth and the provision of public services, including health care, in Wales".

'Significant concerns'

If research funding was to be ringfenced, HEFCW claimed the amount left over for other priorities would fall from £70m in 2015/16 to £8m in 2016/17.

The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol – which supports tuition through the medium of Welsh – could also be affected, HEFCW added, "with significant implications for the delivery of the Welsh government's commitment to strengthen the place of the Welsh language in everyday life".

In its submission, Universities Wales said there were "significant concerns" that the funding gap between Welsh and English universities could now stand at as much as £115m, "risking league table performance" and making it harder to recruit students in the long term.

A Welsh government spokesman said it was "a matter for HEFCW" to determine the allocation of its funding.

However, he added Education Minister Huw Lewis would set out the priorities he expected the council to deliver in its annual remit letter.

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