Forty-five leading Welsh and Celtic studies academics have condemned a decision by the Welsh Assembly's higher education inquiry committee to "censor" a paper submitted to it by a Bangor University reader.
The paper, written by Welsh language and literature reader Dafydd Glyn Jones, was ruled as inadmissible evidence by the committee on the grounds that sections of it were "offensive" and "anti-English".
The academics describe the committee's decision as "an affront to democratic principles" and "indicative of an undemocratic and intolerant spirit which could bring the National Assembly of Wales into disrepute and undermine its credibility".
Signatories to the declaration include Aberystwyth University vice-chancellor Derec Llwyd Morgan; Higher Education Funding Council for Wales member and former head of Welsh at Bangor University Gwyn Thomas; and Geraint Jenkins, director of the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies.
Mr Jones's submission is being considered by the committee in a "watered-down" version. The original suggested that the University of Wales should raise entry standards and lower student numbers to cater for "talented, enterprising, faithful people who will stay in Wales and serve Wales".
Welsh students should be offered "a very advantageous price" for their higher education.
Hywel Teifi Edwards, emeritus professor of Welsh at Swansea University, said: "We think it is shameful that the committee's members should go along with this kind of bovver-booted approach. We are outraged that a committee of the assembly should want to censor views in this way."
Mr Jones told The THES that the committee had failed to understand that his paper was written in a light-hearted style, and most of the comments censored were meant as a joke. "When you have no power, you have to use irony as your weapon."
- Welsh Assembly education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson has announced an extra £8.5 million for student access and hardship funds next year.
Framework is hailed as a breakthrough
The Welsh Assembly has backed plans to create a single credit and qualifications framework for Wales covering all levels from basic skills to PhD, writes Tony Tysome .
The move has been hailed as a breakthrough for flexible learning after years of effort by credit accumulation and transfer experts.
It will mean Welsh further and higher education can be funded in "bite-sized" chunks of learning, freeing course design to cater for the needs of more students and employers.
Dropout rates are expected to fall as students are offered the chance to gain credit for parts of vocational, degree or postgraduate programmes, with the opportunity to return later to complete the full qualification.
The credit system may be linked to student support arrangements, with maintenance bursaries possibly becoming available for anyone studying for 30 credits or more a year.
Students will also receive a record of achievement, with a summary of credits they have accumulated, which may be used to support future applications for courses or jobs.
The credit system, which will be linked to the Quality Assurance Agency's qualifications framework for higher education and the Welsh FE qualifications structure, should be in place by April 2003.
Assembly education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson said the framework "will form the central plank of all education and training in Wales and needs to be the result of strong collaboration between partners".
Sonia Reynolds, director of the credit and qualifications framework for Wales project, said: "Research has told us that people are more likely to engage in learning when goals are more achievable."