A crisis is emerging in the Welsh Higher Education sector, and the Welsh Government is refusing to pull its head out of the sand.
Plaid Cymru is calling for an urgent review of the financial sustainability of the sector – because Wales simply can’t afford for the Welsh Government to stand by and do nothing.
1. People are losing their jobs in universities across Wales and the impact is devastating.
Aside from the obvious immediate effect on those whose jobs are at risk, the Welsh Government needs to immediately consider the impact of job losses on its priorities, such as the Welsh language, education, and the environment – and on the viability of higher education as a whole.
2. The financial crisis in Welsh universities leaves our Higher Education institutions at serious risk.
We’re calling on the Welsh Government to give HEFCW an explicit mandate to intervene to prevent the bankruptcy of any higher education institution in Wales in the immediate future, by means of an emergency loan if necessary.
3. The threat of a no deal Brexit is giving the incorrect impression that Wales is closed to international staff and students.
A drop in international student numbers will only deepen the sector’s financial woes.
That’s just one reason why Plaid Cymru has been consistently clear that we would never accept a no deal Brexit. The Westminster parties need to get their act together, commit to taking a no deal Brexit off the table, and put the whole question back to the people in a final say referendum.
4. While hardworking university staff face the prospect of losing their jobs, those at the top of universities continue to enjoy enormous salaries.
The most-recently available data from HEFCW shows that the average salary of vice-chancellors at Welsh universities is £254,000.
We’re calling on the Welsh Government to make university funding contingent on vice-chancellors’ salaries not surpassing 5 times median earnings.
5. The sector is facing major governance and accountability issues.
We’re demanding that the Welsh Government ensures the adequacy and transparency of university oversight and governance arrangements, especially in relation to the spending of public funds.
6. Universities aren’t just companies – they're institutions that deliver a public good, and that’s how they should be run.
We’re calling for students and staff at Welsh universities to be involved in all levels of decision-making, and for universities to take account of their views when they make important decisions about staffing.