MID and West AM Helen Mary Jones has called on the Welsh Government to get to grips with the crisis facing the higher education sector in Wales. She highlighted the difficulties facing University of Wales Trinity Saint David, particularly the Lampeter campus.
Her comments were made during a Plaid Cymru debate in the Senedd. Plaid Cymru believes the Welsh Government must commission an urgent review of the finances of the Welsh university sector, and give Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) the freedom to intervene to prevent the bankruptcy of any higher education institution in Wales, by means of an emergency loan if necessary.
Plaid Cymru Mid and West AM Helen Mary Jones, Shadow Health Minister said:
“The financial instability of universities presents dangers for our institutions. I want to highlight the difficulties facing University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Take the example of Lampeter university, as it was, a much-loved institution. Not many of us realise it’s the fourth oldest higher education institution in Wales, Scotland and England. It’s vital to its community.
“It plays a huge part, even reduced as it is, and I’ve been contacted by many constituents who are really, really concerned. We’ve seen a drop of student numbers and numbers of staff over the years, and there are some people contacting me who are questioning Trinity Saint David’s long-term commitment, as an institution, to the Lampeter campus.
“Constituents are also really worried about the potential impact of these difficulties on the further education services provided by Coleg Sir Gâr. This is an example of how these institutions have grown; they are groups of institutions and they must have governance arrangements that work in that context.
“We face risks to our further education sector across Carmarthenshire because of financial problems in other parts of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David sector, because the college is part of that group. This is an example of how the fragility of the universities, financially, can have potential impacts beyond their own borders.”