Report calls for federal Wales

June 7, 2002

Supporters of the federal University of Wales have welcomed the final report of an independent study that concludes that the university should expand to take in all Welsh higher education institutions.

The recommendations of the report by Sir David Williams run counter to those of the Welsh Assembly's higher education inquiry, which concluded earlier this year that the federal university should have a reduced role and lose its degree-awarding powers.

The assembly subsequently decided that the future of the university should be left to its member institutions, which should act on the recommendations of Sir David's report.

Sir David advocates removal of the distinctions between University of Wales constituent institutions and university colleges, and that institutions outside the university should be allowed to join.

This would mean that the University of Glamorgan, North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, Swansea Institute of Higher Education, Trinity College Carmarthen, and the Welsh College of Music and Drama, could all be brought into the federal fold.

The present requirement that an institution should attain research degree-awarding powers before it is allowed to gain constituent status should be dropped, the report says.

Associate institutions that do not have research degree-awarding powers should be invited to join the university "with the expectation of a transitional phase during which they would have a lower level of representation and have fewer quality assurance responsibilities devolved to them", it adds.

The report has already been approved in principle by the council of the University of Wales, and it has been submitted to the eight member institutions for consideration. Their views will be gathered before the end of the academic year when a final decision will be taken.

* An investigation has begun into consultancy contract irregularities in Wales's biggest education and training quango.

The probe, announced by Welsh Assembly education minister Jane Davidson, follows concerns raised in an audit carried out for the further education section of Elwa, the education and training national council.

Ms Davidson told the assembly's education and lifelong learning committee that Elwa had drawn attention to "a number of procedural issues over the internal handling of several procurement matters related to contracts for consultancy support".

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