Consultation on the Higher Education (Wales) Bill 2014: the Society’s response

In May 2014 the Society was invited to submit written evidence on the general principles of the Higher Education (Wales) Bill which was issued by the Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee, Ann Jones AM.

The Society submitted a response, in the name of the Council of the Society, which can be accessed here.

The Higher Education (Wales) Bill was introduced in the National Assembly for Wales by the Education Minister, Huw Lewis AM, on 19 May 2014.

The accompanying Explanatory Memorandum prepared by the Welsh Government describes the Bill’s main purposes in the following terms:

The Welsh Government’s primary policy objectives in relation to the Bill are to:

  1. ensure robust and proportionate regulation of institutions in Wales whose courses are supported by Welsh Government backed higher education grants and loans;
  2. safeguard the contribution made to the public good arising from the Welsh Government’s financial subsidy of higher education;
  3. maintain a strong focus on fair access to higher education; and
  4. preserve and protect the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of universities.

The Welsh Government intends to achieve these objectives by:

  1. Establishing a new regulatory framework applicable to all providers of higher education in Wales which seek automatic designation of their higher education courses for the purpose of student support;
  2. Ensuring the new regulatory controls do not rely on HEFCW providing funding to those institutions and providers;
  3. Requiring all higher education providers that benefit from the Welsh Government’s financial subsidy in the form of statutory student fee loans or grants to have charitable status;
  4. Requiring all higher education providers whose courses are automatically designated for statutory student support to commit to activity in support of equality of access to higher education; and
  5. Building, as far as possible, on the existing system of controls established by HEFCW  under its terms and conditions of funding.

The Society’s Comments can be read here