Welsh unconvinced about the role of regulator

April 11, 2003

The Welsh Assembly may decide against appointing an access regulator for higher education, it emerged this week.

Assembly education minister Jane Davidson has asked the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to advise her on whether such an appointment is necessary.

In her grant remit letter she calls on the funding council to "monitor the development of the access regulator in England and advise me on whether or not a similar statutory office is required in Wales".

Funding council higher education director Phil Gummett said the minister's request was made in recognition of the fact that the smaller size of the Welsh sector coupled with efforts already under way in Wales to widen access could mean a statutory regulator was not needed.

The assembly has added £2 million for next year to £3 million invested in widening access by the funding council, which has been used to set up four widening access partnerships between institutions across Wales.

Mr Gummett said: "In Wales we have a different machinery for promoting widening access, so there is a question as to whether or not we need a statutory access regulator."

He said one approach would be to give the responsibilities for access development that would be performed by a regulator to a new coordinator for Reaching Wider - the Welsh equivalent of England's Partnerships for Progression.

• The Conservatives have promised to replace the Assembly Learning Grant for hard-up students with a non-means tested grant for all Welsh students.


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