Welsh minister: Tory HE policy in England ‘not the norm’

Welsh student support and tertiary systems have ‘far more in common with international approaches’ than English ones, says Jeremy Miles

November 24, 2021

The Welsh government is not “deviating from the norm” in its system-wide tertiary education approach and comprehensive maintenance funding for students, and has “far more in common with international approaches” than Westminster government policy in England, according to Wales’ education minister.

Jeremy Miles was speaking at the Times Higher Education THE Campus Live event, in a session titled “Beyond Westminster – an alternative approach”, where he compared the education policies of the Conservative Westminster government unfavourably with those of the Labour-run Welsh government.

He said Welsh tertiary education policy – where the government is creating a new tertiary education body in a bid to join up post-16 education and align it with economic needs – encompassed “cooperation rather than competition…student grants for all rather than the accumulation of debt…a genuine reciprocal international exchange programme”.

The Commission for Tertiary Education and Research, scheduled to be established as an independent Welsh government-sponsored body by 2023, will be responsible for overseeing the entire post-16 sector, including further education, higher education, apprenticeships, sixth forms and Welsh government-funded research and innovation.

Under the Welsh government’s reformed student funding system, students are entitled to maintenance grants of up to £10,124 a year if studying in London or up to £8,100 if studying in the rest of the UK, depending on household income. In England, maintenance grants have been abolished and replaced with loans.

Mr Miles criticised an attitude whereby “policy developed at Westminster is [seen as] the norm”, and Welsh education policy in this case as “a deviation from the norm, an alternative to a consensus”.

“When it comes to education policy, my contention is that it is not actually us that is different; it isn’t us that is deviating from the norm,” he continued.

The Welsh “strategic and system-wide” approach is “absolutely one we have in common with New Zealand, with Scotland and with others”, he added.

Mr Miles observed that “last week in the Commons the UK government’s approach to competition not collaboration between colleges and universities [was] being subjected to some criticism by former ministers”, referring to Chris Skidmore’s points during the second reading of the Skills Bill.

He added that the Welsh approach of ensuring “all university students, full time, part time, undergraduate, postgraduate are eligible for student support grants has, I think, far more in common with international approaches than it does to the view which is prevailing in Westminster”.


Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles