The restructured University of Wales will create such a strong brand and such solid bonds between its constituent universities that none will wish to break free from the confederation. This is the prediction of Marc Clement, the first full-time vice-chancellor of the 114-year-old University of Wales, writes Melanie Newman.
Late in 2007, after a difficult few years in which its quality assurance systems and its governance were challenged, the UoW shifted from a federal structure with member institutions to a looser confederation of nine universities, each of which awards UoW degrees. The accredited universities may now award their own degrees if they choose, and there has been speculation that they may quit the confederation.
"I prefer to think that we will create a brand of such value for quality and standards that that's a decision they will not want to take," Professor Clement told The Times Higher . "Not only will we convince them not to go off on their own, but they will be anxious to stay within UoW."
He also said that, after its restructuring, UoW had to "find its own way in the world". To this end, Professor Clement has been reviewing what "this unusual university could do for higher education in Wales".
His first step is a review of UoW's brand strategy. "We have a brand that has international recognition, and promoting it will benefit the whole sector."
Second, UoW will position itself as a hub linking accredited institutions. "Even our larger institutions are often not big enough to raise the wealth they need for knowledge transfer," Professor Clement said. "It's often difficult for them to attract venture capital. UoW will bring them together to achieve that critical mass."