AUT condemns Swansea transfer as 'political fix'

July 25, 2003

Academic union leaders have threatened to "greylist", Swansea University in protest against a decision to hand over its teacher training to Swansea Institute of Higher Education in exchange for nursing and law.

The Association of University Teachers says it will put Swansea on a list of institutions circulated worldwide advising caution against any contact with it unless the transfer plans are withdrawn.

The threat comes after the university's council overruled a decision by its senate to defer going ahead with the exchange.

The university said the move was in response to the Welsh Assembly's call for "reconfiguration" in higher education - reorganisation and rationalisation - and would lead to the creation of a strong, unified school of education.

The assembly has said that future extra funding will depend on satisfactory progress towards reconfiguration.

Union leaders claim the university is using the assembly's agenda to sacrifice the biggest teacher-training department in Wales to make financial gains.

Andrew Morgan, Swansea AUT president, said: "This will provoke outrage. An important educational and community resource, worth far more than a short-term political fix, is being sacrificed - as are the professional careers of many AUT members."

Barry Johnson, AUT assistant general secretary, said it was "unprecedented" that the council should overrule senate on the issue.

A document outlining the university's plans says "economic realities and opportunity costs" as well as educational reasons "drive the necessity for the proposal".

The university has denied it intends to sell buildings or the site on which its education department is based. Swansea vice-chancellor Robin Williams said: "It is right that we should be moving forward in our approach to education and teacher training in this way."

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