The feature on Welsh higher education (THES, April 26) misses one development that is not a model for higher education elsewhere and should be of serious concern: output funding of part-time modules. From this September the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales will fund students on all Welsh part-time courses on the basis of modules successfully completed. Over the next four years it intends to start to apply the same principles to full-time courses.
The HEFCW sees this as a way of aiding part-time students and enabling students to spread the cost of higher education over a number of years. However, output funding will strike at the heart of academic integrity and decision-making. It will encourage the modularisation of all courses in Wales, whether or not there is academic justification. Pressure will increase to close down the less popular or expensive modules, even though there are strong academic reasons for their survival. The most chilling consequence is that financial pressure will be brought to bear to pass students to ensure funding.
Natfhe's concerns on this matter have been expressed to HEFCW and the Welsh Office.
Len Arthur Natfhe NEC member, Wales HE