The Welsh government has announced a review covering the role of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, which will make recommendations on future oversight of post-secondary education.
The review will be led by Ellen Hazelkorn, policy adviser to Ireland’s Higher Education Authority and director of the Higher Education Research Unit at the Dublin Institute of Technology. It will start in October and report in spring 2016.
The review is to cover “the regulation and oversight of post-compulsory education and training in Wales, with special reference to the future role and function of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales”.
A Welsh higher education act, which critics fear will grant Hefcw greater powers over universities, was passed earlier this year.
And Sir Ian Diamond, the University of Aberdeen vice-chancellor, is already carrying out a government-commissioned review of student finance and higher education funding.
Huw Lewis, the minister for education and skills in the Welsh government, announcing the review in a statement, said that in “post-compulsory education” there are “an assortment of oversight activities undertaken by a variety of bodies including the Welsh government, Hefcw and Estyn”, the Welsh equivalent of Ofsted.
He added: “As a consequence, there are different arrangements for, different degrees of engagement with, and different levels of effectiveness in the delivery of a number of oversight functions.”
Mr Lewis noted the advent of the higher education act, the Diamond review and the “likelihood of future funding and financing challenges”. He continued that “now seems an appropriate time to review the scope for a better alignment of the arrangements for oversight activity in and between the institutions involved in the provision of post-compulsory education and training”.
Professor Hazelkorn’s review will “consider the current oversight arrangements and make recommendations for the future regulation and oversight of post-compulsory education and training in Wales with particular reference to the role of Hefcw”, Mr Lewis added.
“I have also asked Professor Hazelkorn to indicate whether there may be a need for legislation and new or reformed institutional arrangements to take forward future arrangements proposed in the light of this evaluation.”
David Blaney, Hefcw chief executive, said that the organisation “is normally subject to a review every five years. We welcome the statement by the minister for education and skills, and look forward to working with Professor Hazelkorn in due course”.