HEFCW Cuts: Contribution to CASE letter

In January CaSE wrote to the Minister for Education and Skills in the Welsh Government, expressing concerns at the 32% cut to the budget of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) proposed in the Welsh Government’s draft Budget in December.

The letter was co-signed by eight other organisations from across the science and engineering community including  The Royal Society, Learned Society of Wales, Association of Medical Research Charities, Institute of Physics, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institution of Chemical Engineers, Society of Biology, and Royal Society of Chemistry.

The Minister’s response to the letter, and responses from the Government to questions posed by the Finance committee, failed to address the serious concerns over the damage the draft HEFCW budget settlement would have on Welsh universities, on the provision of valuable higher-cost subjects like science and engineering, and on quality related (QR) investment that underpins research success in Wales.

Commenting, CaSE Director Dr Sarah Main said:

“Even in difficult times, investment in research is worthwhile because it is a ticket to future prosperity – a fact the Chancellor has recognised in his plan to make the UK the best place in the world to do science and to innovate. The proposed cuts to the HEFCW budget could blow a serious hole in that plan by forcing Welsh universities to withdraw funding from talented research staff and great projects. The ramifications of this decision are likely to reach beyond university staff to students, local jobs and the high tech economy.”

“CaSE has called on the Welsh Government to reconsider this proposal and protect the HEFCW budget in real terms as part of plan for a high-skilled, innovative Wales.”

Commenting, Chief Executive of the Learned Society for Wales, Professor Peter Halligan said:

“These cuts risk jeopardising the excellent work undertaken by universities and Government over the past decade to improve the quality, reputation and capacity of research, teaching and scholarship in Wales. As Wales first national academy, we are seriously concerned at the likely long term negative effect of these proposals on scholarship and research, and ultimately for the health of the economy”

As well as protecting vital research capacity, a real-terms maintenance of the HEFCW budget would protect the provision and quality of high-cost science, technology, engineering, and maths courses, which are central to opening up high-value careers to Welsh students and delivering the high-skilled workforce Wales needs for its future prosperity.

From CaSE