Helen Mary Jones MS, calls for University crisis to be taken seriously by Welsh Government

The crisis Welsh universities face must no longer be ignored, Helen Mary Jones MS Plaid Cymru’s shadow economy minister has said.

Welsh universities provide 17,300 full time jobs, 50,000 other jobs rely on them and they provide almost 5% of Welsh GVA and a third of our research and development spending.

However a recent report from Wales Governance Centre showed that Welsh universities faced the likelihood of losing between £84 – 140 million in the coming academic year from losses in fees alone – not counting other losses that might be expected due to a projected fall in student numbers.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Economy Minister Helen Mary Jones MS continued its plea to the Welsh Government to provide critical leadership – before the next academic year begins – so that the HE sector can be confident there are contingencies in place to prevent any significant operational or financial challenges in the sector in the coming year.

Ms Jones said Welsh Universities were a pillar of Wales’ "economic structure" and that a "lack of swift action" by Welsh Government would mean the pillar would be in danger of crumbling.

The Plaid Cymru MS called for Welsh Government intervention.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said "universities will need to be there to help us climb our way out of this economic emergency."

Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru’s shadow economy minister, said:

"Plaid Cymru has long warned that the financial position of Welsh higher education was precarious. We agree with the Welsh Government that this current crisis is an economic emergency as well as a public health one. The current measures outlined by Welsh Government, by their own admission, won't be enough to secure our HE sector. Reprofiling student loans for example, won’t necessarily be helpful after the first few months of the next academic year, due to the reliance of universities on regular fees throughout the year".

"Our Welsh Universities are a pillar of our economic structure and a lack of swift action by Welsh Government will mean that this pillar is in danger of crumbling. I’ve said before that this threat is about as big as it gets and therefore we believe that if the UK Government won’t step in, then the Welsh Government must."