Welsh field centre survives

August 1, 1997

GREGYNOG, the University of Wales residential centre, will have to adjust to a new funding system from next year, but should not be in danger of closure.

Fears had been expressed for its future after August 1998, when the University of Wales shifts from financing Gregynog via institutional grants to a model under which the institutions will pay for using the centre.

Denis Balsom, the warden of Gregynog, a mid-Wales country house, is confident that the adjustment can be made. Gregynog receives about Pounds 70,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales plus fees from institutions. Dr Balsom estimates that he will need about Pounds 200,000 per year under the new system.

He said: "The HEFCW grant allows us to cross-subsidise University of Wales courses here. In future we will have to ask institutions to pay something like the commercial rate."

He estimates that the break-even cost of providing one night's accommodation is about Pounds 35 - the rate charged to University of Wales staff - while students from the university are charged Pounds 10.

"It will now be up to institutions to decide whether they want to pass on the charges or to subsidise from their own funds," he said.

Dr Balsom said that use of the centre was roughly evenly divided between the university's four largest users, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Bangor. One possibility is that they could be asked to pay a subscription. They might also broaden the range of users to institutions within reasonable travelling distance.

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