Leighton Andrews announced this afternoon that a consultation on the dissolution would be scrapped “with immediate effect”.
He reiterated his desire that Cardiff Met merge with the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, to create a single post-1992 university in south east Wales.
However, Mr Andrews appears to have backed down from his threats to forcibly dissolve Cardiff Met unless it agreed to merger, at least for now.
He explained to Times Higher Education that the timescale of the consultation could have caused Newport and Glamorgan “difficulties” in their merger, and so has called it off.
“Our policy remains as it was,” he said, adding that the government still wants a single post-1992 university in south-east Wales.
The board of governors at Cardiff Met has opposed the merger and threatened to take the government to a judicial review, although the University and College Union has supported the merger.
In a statement released this afternoon, Mr Andrews said: “The chairs of Newport and Glamorgan have made clear their preference to now establish the new university by way of the voluntary dissolution.
“This is excellent progress. In the light of these developments, I have decided to cancel with immediate effect the consultation I commenced on the 6th of August on the options which involved the dissolution of the University of Wales, Newport and Cardiff Metropolitan University or the dissolution of the University of Wales, Newport alone."
In a statement, Plaid Cymru’s shadow education minister welcomed the decision.
Simon Thomas said that the minister “had gone about this the wrong way.”
“From the outset, we called on the Welsh Government to adopt a voluntary approach to the merger of universities because we do not believe that forcing a dissolution order on universities is the way to generate consensus and collaboration,” he said.