Wales unveils devolution plans

August 8, 1997

THE University of Wales has finally published plans to reshape its federal structure by devolving more powers to its eight member institutions, writes Iola Smith.

The intention, according to the university's pro chancellor, Lord Williams of Mostyn, is "to end uncertainty and begin a period of stability for the university".

The constituent colleges will gain autonomy in 12 spheres, ranging from administering exams to establishing new courses and departments. They will be able to establish chairs and readerships, appoint staff to fill the posts and have the power to appoint and pay external examiners.

The devolution means that there will be some job losses at the central university registry in Cardiff.

But it will ensure that the university alone retains the power to award degrees. As the framework document insists, "any constituent institution which has been granted or which may in future be granted the power to award its own degrees, has to agree to hold these powers in abeyance".

The Privy Council recently granted the University of Wales Cardiff the right to award its own degrees, but it will not use that power according to its vice chancellor, Brian Smith. "The new framework is very much in tune with Cardiff's mission," he said.

Keith Robbins, the university's senior vice chancellor, is convinced that the new approach is in tune with Dearing's recommendations.

The report emphasises the benefits of increased collaboration at regional level between higher education institutions.

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