Welsh v-cs oppose 'Trojan Horse' Bill clause

July 2, 2004

Welsh vice-chancellors have described a clause in the Higher Education Bill as a "Trojan Horse" that threatens university autonomy, writes Tony Tysome.

The clause, which applies only to Welsh institutions, says that universities' access plans must be geared towards "the promotion of higher education".

Higher Education Wales, the body that represents Welsh vice-chancellors, has written to MPs and peers complaining that this could be used by the Welsh Assembly and Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to steer institutions towards policy objectives that are not directly connected with access.

The letter says: "It is unacceptable that there should be a provision in this Bill to create a power to regulate and fine institutions without being specific about what is to be regulated."

Vice-chancellors fear that the clause forms part of a "clear attack on university autonomy" from the Welsh Assembly, which will receive devolved powers over student finance if the Bill is passed.

Concerns focus on a speech made by Jane Davidson, the Assembly education minister, in which she called on the HEFCW to take a "more proactive" approach to encouraging collaboration between Welsh universities.

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