Review reforms cause concern

March 1, 2002

Welsh academics have condemned proposals for sweeping reforms to the higher education system, writes Tony Tysome.

A survey of professors, lecturers, researchers and administrators by the Association of University Teachers in Wales found opposition to many of the key proposals in the Welsh Assembly's report on its higher education review.

It has also revealed concern about the tight timetable set by the assembly for introducing changes recommended in the report.

Many Welsh academics are opposed to the proposal that the federal University of Wales should have a reduced role and give up its degree-awarding status, the survey found. They are worried that institutional autonomy could be under threat through a recommendation that the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales should have a greater strategic-planning role.

In a paper responding to the review report, AUT Wales says the assembly's approach has amounted to relying on the views of one expert and a "wholly unconstitutional grouping of institutional heads", rather than canvassing staff and governing bodies in the sector.

Andrew Morgan, who chairs the AUT's all-Wales committee, said: "It is as if the views of staff as stakeholders in higher education are going to be ignored."

The paper calls for a "pause for reflection" to give stakeholders longer to consider the report, and time for an independent report commissioned by the University of Wales into its future to be received and to feed into the debate.


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