Heads prepare Sir Ron salvo

April 26, 1996

Higher education heads in Wales are hoping to start fresh talks with the Government on the concerns of Welsh universities and colleges.

Representatives of the University of Wales were meeting this month with William Hague, the Secretary of State for Wales, to raise issues due to be tackled by Sir Ron Dearing's higher education inquiry.

It was expected that the discussion would lay the ground for another meeting soon between the Welsh Secretary and the new Heads of Higher Education Wales.

HHEW is pressing for differences in provision, funding, and social and economic circumstances between the Welsh and English higher education systems to be taken on board in Sir Ron Dearing's review.

Keith Robbins, HHEW chairman and vice chancellor of the University of Wales, Lampeter, said: "We want it to be recognised that the Dearing inquiry is not just an English exercise, and that the different kind of diversity that can be found in Wales must be part of the consideration.

"We also want to ensure we can open a dialogue with the Welsh Office, which until recently we have not had in any effective sense, on the wider aspects of the role of higher education in Wales."

HHEW was launched last month to provide a forum for Welsh higher education heads to identify common areas of interest and concern, and formulate common policies.

Its members, who held their first formal meeting in Aberystwyth last Thursday, have already decided to carry out an assessment of the contribution which higher education makes to the Welsh economy.

John Williams, HHEW's vice chairman and principal of the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, said: "By taking the initiative on matters of crucial importance such as funding levels and models, the Private Finance Initiative, quality assessment and research strategy, it will enable the institutions to give a much needed steer to the future direction of higher education in Wales."

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