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Aled Roberts AM calls for urgent cross-party discussion on HE fees

March 5, 2012 3:39 PM

As the row over funding in Higher Education rumbles on, Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Aled Roberts has called for an urgent and thorough discussion on HE fees. The call comes in the wake of University of Wales Newport cutting its fees in line with advice from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). However, rather than the drop heralding an increase in the number of students attending Newport, the university is concerned that the criteria the Welsh Government is using to allocate places will actually result in a significant drop in numbers.

Commenting, Aled Roberts AM said:

"This is clearly another case where the system is having to be re-jigged because of the way the financial modelling has been calculated.

"There are issues as to whether the impact of higher fees means that HEFCW is having to amend its scheme to make it more affordable in the current year.

"We obviously need to wait to see actual admission numbers before knowing the full implications, but the potential fall in English students choosing to study in Wales is yet another ticking time-bomb for HE fees.

"It is unacceptable that individual institutions should see such drops in funding as a result of re-profiling the financial model, and I would expect HEFCW to enter into discussions with any institution likely to be affected and seriously consider the way forward.

"The Education Minister has been unwilling to give commitment on the sustainability of the current model beyond 2015 and it is quite clear that there are far-reaching implications which must be addressed sooner rather than later.

"I have tabled a question to the Minister for answer in the Assembly Siambr, and I am calling on him to agree to urgent and honest cross-party discussion on this subject, so that a wholly sustainable model of HE funding for Wales can be achieved. A quick-fix, reactive policy is completely inappropriate."