Friday, February 18, 2011


Has the HE sector now finally been sorted out in Wales?

Last week, we had the merger agreement between Trinity St David’s, Swansea Metropolitan University, UWIC and the University of Wales announced to the surprise of many in the sector.

Then, in an interview in the Daily Post, the new Vice Chancellor of Bangor, John Hughes, stated that

“What we're currently doing and the steer we've been given from the department and HEFCW is that we should be forming a strategic alliance with Aberystwyth but short of a merger”.

And today, it has been reported that Glyndwr University is exploring the potential for greater partnerships with further education colleges across North Wales.

That, therefore, leaves the fate of four universities undecided.

For Newport, there are a number of options open, which include joining the new University of Wales, replicating Glyndwr’s link with further education in Gwent or, as is probably likely, merging with the University of Glamorgan.

If all these mergers and alliances go ahead as planned, Swansea University will become the smallest university in Wales.

So, as some have been whispering in the corridors of higher education, one of the few options left could be a strategic link up with Cardiff University, on the lines of the Bangor-Aberystwyth alliance, to create a major research-led powerhouse in Wales.

That would then leave five university groupings in Wales (albeit with seven vice chancellors) although given last week’s historic decision on the new University of Wales which caught policymakers and politicians by surprise, anything could yet happen over the next few weeks.