Statement on Higher Education reconfiguration by Leighton Andrews

On 17 July Education and Skills Minister Leighton Andrews made a statement on Higher Education reconfiguration in South East Wales.

“Having considered the available evidence and the issues raised in discussions, I continue to believe that HEFCW’s proposal for a strong metropolitan university in South East Wales remains a sound one. I welcome, therefore, the recent announcement by the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport regarding their intention to merge. They intend to create an institution with an enhanced applied research capacity, a focus on business engagement and employability, and improved access opportunities for local learners.
I have noted the recent response of the governing body of Cardiff Metropolitan University to the proposed merger and of their desire to remain outside of any merger discussions. However, I continue to believe that there is a case for that institution to join with the University of Wales, Newport and the University of Glamorgan.

The discussions between Glamorgan and Newport focus on a merger that is likely to utilise the existing vehicle of the University of Glamorgan structure. There would therefore be a need to dissolve the existing University of Wales, Newport HE Corporation. I have, therefore, decided to commence, as soon as possible, a statutory consultation on the dissolution of the University of Wales, Newport HE Corporation.

Subject to the outcome of this statutory consultation, I would anticipate seeing real progress on the merger of Newport and Glamorgan by 2013.

Since I am minded to accept HEFCW’s proposal, I would also expect to proceed to a similar and concurrent consultation on the dissolution of the Cardiff Metropolitan University HE Corporation. I would hope to see progress in terms of Cardiff Metropolitan’s involvement in the new merged institution in 2014.

If the outcome of the statutory consultations resulted in a decision to proceed with merger, there would be a need to plan the development of the new institution. In that eventuality, I would therefore propose to establish a new strategic board, chaired by Geraint Talfan Davies. The board, if constituted, would include representation from all three institutions, including the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and would  work for a period of some two years on a ‘blueprint’ for the merged institution.

Clearly the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales will need some certainty in planning future arrangements. If the outcome of the statutory consultations resulted in the dissolution of the institutions affected, I would expect that HEFCW’s public funding of provision in South East Wales from 2015-16 onwards would support two higher education institutions, Cardiff University and the new merged metropolitan University.

I believe at this point that HEFCW’s recommendations for South East Wales, leading to a more focused research-intensive institution alongside a strong metropolitan university, are the way forward.

Read the full statement at:

Professor Sir Steve Smith’s evaluation of the options, and related evidence, for creating a single post-92 Higher Education (HE) institution in South East Wales was published by the Welsh Government on 16 July. Professor Smith’s conclusions are “entirely in line with this Government’s long-standing view about the need for radical change within the Welsh higher education sector.”

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