Wales to match English HE fund

May 21, 1999

The first secretary of Wales, Alun Michael, has promised to eradicate the funding inequities between Welsh and English higher education.

In a letter to lecturers' union Natfhe this week, Mr Michael said the imbalance was already being addressed. He pledged that "within two years - under a Labour administration - the differential between Welsh and English higher education will be eliminated".

Natfhe's Welsh national executive member, Len Arthur, hailed the promise as "superb news for Welsh higher education". Natfhe has estimated that this will mean an extra Pounds 10 million for Welsh universities and is now seeking an urgent meeting with Tom Middlehurst, the minister responsible for post-16 education and training, for further discussions.

Mr Michael also reiterated the Welsh assembly's commitment to further and higher education.

He confirmed that further education colleges in Wales will be boosted by more than 28,000 student places and Pounds 100 million over three years, and that universities' numbers will be increased by 8,000, with an average funding increase of more than 10 per cent over three years, at a cost of Pounds 182 million.

Natfhe hailed Mr Michael's pledge to improve staff terms and conditions. He said part of any new funding "should be devoted to investment in staff". Natfhe said this represented a clear commitment to promote good practice by employers.

But Mr Michael warned: "The government is not the employer for further or higher education institutions and negotiations on terms and conditions are really a matter for the relevant employer bodies."

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