Welsh given £3.2m boost

April 20, 2001

The Welsh Assembly will provide higher education with a £3.2 million boost this year.

The announcement by the assembly's lifelong learning minister, Jane Davidson, followed calls from the assembly and vice-chancellors for a review of the allocations published last month by the Welsh funding councils.

The allocations for the next academic year amounted to a 0.5 per cent cut, despite 8.1 per cent more cash from the assembly. The funding council said it had had to smooth over a projected drop in assembly grant from next April. Budgeting is complicated by the fact that the assembly works in financial years and the funding council in academic years.

Ms Davidson, who had urged the funding council to revisit its funding plans, said the extra £3.2 million in recurrent funding would help the sector meet general pressures. Welsh vice-chancellors have warned that rises in funding levels in Wales will soon begin to fall behind England, exposing institutions to problems hiring and keeping staff.

The funding council welcomed the additional money but said it was yet to receive formal notification from the assembly on how it should be used.

• Tuition fees for part-time higher education courses are to be standardised in all ten further and higher education institutions in North Wales as part of a drive to make courses more affordable.

The move, led by the Community University of North Wales - a lifelong learning umbrella body - aims to build a system that does not penalise students for living in a high-fees area.

Lorraine Hopkins, Community University coordinator, said: "This is an amazing development that shows a very real commitment to working towards a better deal for students in North Wales.

"A few years ago it would have been rare for traditionally competing colleges to share ideas and information, let alone meet to discuss fee setting across the region."

The Community University is also exploring concessions for all part-time students. The pilot project may be extended to full-time courses if it is a success.

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