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Welsh universities told to meet national priorities

Minister asks institutions to deliver government priorities without being funded to do so.

Welsh universities are responsible for deciding how to meet government priorities for higher education, according to Huw Lewis, the education minister. They should determine how to manage: the provision of part-time study; subjects including science, technology, engineering and maths; and Welsh language education. However it is not up to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to provide the wherewithal, he told the education, young people and culture committee.

Pressed on the cuts to Welsh funding council’s budget, Lewis told AMs that universities are steering “large amounts of public investment” and have a responsibility to the Welsh public to be “very clear about how they prioritise things”. Some £20 million that previously used to fund part-time, expensive subjects and high-quality research has been redirected from the funding council to the tuition fee grant, Lewis said. He argued that the Welsh funding council should seek to inform institutions’ strategic planning, but that ultimately universities themselves should "step up” to use the money to meet national priorities. “Our investment is not with the institution as first priority, but with the young person,” he said.

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