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First science star for Wales announced
A world-leading neurobiologist will take up a post at Cardiff University as the first appointment under the Welsh Government’s £50M flagship science initiative.
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The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
The Strategy for Older People in Wales 2013-2023 »The 3rd phase focuses on ensuring that older people in Wales have the resources to deal with the challenges and opportunities they face.Learn more »
- Consultation on Draft Technical Advice Note (TAN) 23 Economic Development
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Section highlightIndex of Planning Policy Guidance for Wales
Our land use planning policy guidance is set out in two core documents, "Planning Policy Wales" and "Minerals Planning Policy Wales".
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
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Examples of infrastructure investment projects funded by the Welsh Government across Wales.Learn more »
Oral Statement - Higher Education Strategy
Today, Lord Browne published his proposals for higher education funding and student finance in England. It would be premature to issue a detailed response to the proposals today. We will digest the report and respond in due course, having also seen the final response from the UK Government and the outcome of the comprehensive spending review.
Lord Browne’s report recommends the removal of the tuition fee cap in England, allowing fees to rise to £6,000 or even higher; greater competition between higher education institutions in England for students; the removal of public subsidy for courses other than priority courses, meaning that higher education institution income will principally be dependent on student numbers, and there will be cuts in public spending on higher education in England accordingly; changes to student support arrangements, including for part-time students; and changes to the bodies regulating higher education in England, two of which are cross-border.
Lord Browne’s report anticipates that the teaching grant for higher education institutions in England will be cut by 80 per cent, from £3.5 billion to £700 million. He also acknowledges that a fee of £6,000
'may be less than the charge that institutions need to make to replace the…funding that is removed from the system’.
Approximately 16,000 Welsh undergraduates study in England; therefore, these proposals would have a direct and immediate impact on our budgets. To illustrate, charging a £7,000 fee to Welsh students going to English universities could result in a cost to the Welsh Assembly Government of an additional £70million by 2015-16. Of this, £55millionwould effectively flow from the Welsh block into English universities.
I am grateful to Lord Browne for a private briefing on his proposals last month. I have observed the confidentiality of that discussion for the past five weeks. I am also grateful to the universities Minister for England, David Willetts, for the conversations that we had. Again, I have respected those confidences. Mr Willetts told the Universities UK conference on 9 September that he expected to implement the reforms in England from the start of the 2012-13 academic year, and set out a possible consultative and legislative process. We will need to have further discussions with the UK Government on a range of issues.
In the 'One Wales’ programme for Government, we committed ourselves to doing whatever possible to mitigate the effects on students ordinarily resident in Wales if the Westminster Government lifts the cap on fees. We made it clear that our policies would widen participation in education; would maximise the economic, social and cultural impact of universities on learners and the wider community; will require universities to work together to make the most of their resources; and provide the widest possible range of opportunities for students, with a higher education system that is responsive to the needs of students, employers and the wider community and economy, and which assists us in tackling poverty and disadvantage.
The Assembly Government has a responsibility to students ordinarily resident in Wales, wherever they choose to study, and to the Welsh higher education sector. Our response will be based on 'One Wales’ and the higher education strategythat flowed from it, 'For our Future’, in which we set out our objectives for higher education in Wales. We stated that we would build the future of higher education on the secure foundations of social justice and supporting a buoyant economy.
Central to our policy is the principle that access to higher education should be on the basis of the individual’s potential to benefit, and not on the basis of what they can afford to pay. We do not wish to see the development of a market in higher education where institutions compete on price and students choose their courses or institutions on the basis of relative cost.
Lord Browne’s review further shifts the burden of paying for higher education from the state to the graduate and will, we believe, result in a largely market-based system where institutions increasingly compete on cost, not quality.Equality of opportunity, strong community ties and a rich cultural and linguistic heritage cannot be left to the market. The state cannot shirk its responsibility to intervene to secure inclusion and to build community cohesion.
The National Assembly voted in 2005 for the introduction of deferred, variable, fees on a motion from all four party leaders. The One Wales Government put new proposals to the National Assembly in 2009, which have come into operation from this academic year. We would prefer not to have to amend those proposals. However, we cannot afford to subsidise the higher education system in England.
The One Wales Government does not believe in full-cost or near full-cost fees. We question the long-term sustainability of Lord Browne’s approach in a world where higher education institutions in Europe are offering high-quality courses through the medium of English at low or no fees. We believe that the Browne proposals, coupled with anticipated cuts in higher education expenditure, will mean a market in higher education that could destabilise significant numbers of higher education institutions in England and lead to a reduction in applicants from lower income families.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills is making a statement in the House of Commons this afternoon. However, we do not expect the final response from the UK government until after the comprehensive spending review. The One Wales Government will explore, over the next few weeks, our response to Browne, and we will do so with an open mind. Everything will be on the table, including revisions to the proposals previously outlined by my predecessor, which have come into effect this year.
We remain convinced that radicalchange to structure, organisation and delivery is the only way to transform the impact of higher education on Wales’s prosperity and wellbeing. We will do that on the basis of our strategy, 'For our Future’.We have made it clear that, in Wales, we believe in planning the future of higher education, rather than letting the market rule.