Welsh party claims funding shortfall

September 26, 1997

Plaid Cymru is to call for Welsh universities to be funded at a level per student equal to their English and Scottish counterparts.

The party, which won four seats at the general election, meets for its annual conference this week in Aberystwyth. The higher education resolution, to be debated tomorrow, is heavily critical of cuts in university funding imposed earlier this year by William Hague, then secretary of state for Wales, and of the increasing concentration of research money.

The resolution says cuts have "already resulted in redundancies or early retirement among teaching and research staff in the University of Wales, with the consequent disruption of popular and successful degree schemes". It demands equal funding with England and Scotland "as long as Wales remains part of the United Kingdom". The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales estimates the funding gap with England is Pounds 329 per student and with Scotland Pounds 1,052 per student.

The resolution also argues that the heavily weighted research funding formula is designed to implement the recommendations of the Russell group, "which is campaigning for the bulk of university research funding to be allocated to a self-appointed list of universities", and points out that "as no university institution in Wales is included in this group, these policies will inevitably leave Wales with a second-class university system".

The conference will also discuss a resolution calling for a separate Welsh curriculum for 16 to 19-year-olds drawing on "our long tradition of community support for education, which in the recent past has been discounted as government policies inappropriate to Welsh conditions have been imposed".

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