The University of Wales, Newport has today responded to the consultation on the Future Structure of Higher Education in Wales, currently being undertaken by the Welsh Government.
Following an extensive consultation process with staff, students and stakeholders, the University has proposed the creation of a genuinely new university in South East Wales, but only if it further strengthens Newport’s mission to widen access, promote social justice and drive economic regeneration.
The University has made clear that it would not countenance any structure which would weaken this, or damage the role that Higher Education plays within the Gwent region.
Newport contributes over £100m per year into the regional economy and is one of Wales’ most successful universities at opening up education to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over half of Newport’s 9500 students come from within the Gwent region. The University’s strong links with Further Education Colleges, local authorities and the extra emphasis placed upon delivering services for local businesses have made it an integral part in efforts being made to improve opportunities for the communities of Gwent.
The new institution would allow the sharing of expertise and resources across all its constituent parts through the use of enhanced technology and online learning. A larger institution would also open up new opportunities to collaborate with businesses, increase international collaboration and focus on providing essential skills for the Welsh economy.
Dr Peter Noyes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales, Newport said: “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity with the reconfiguration of Higher Education in Wales, and that is why it is so important that we get it right.
“In identifying the building blocks for a genuinely new institution, we are maintaining a principled and non-predatory approach to the future of Higher Education in South East Wales.
“In endorsing the creation of a genuinely new institution, the Governing body have made it very clear that any move that would weaken the role that we currently play in the region would be unacceptable. We have therefore set out a blueprint for the new institution, which would ensure the continuation of our mission, the preservation of a distinct identity for Higher Education in Gwent and the best deal for our students and the communities that we serve.
“When HEFCW set out a proposal for the reconfiguration of Universities in South East Wales, they set in train a process which we have used to create something new and exciting. We have set out a proposal which will meet all of HEFCW’s requirements without causing any damage to our region, its economy and communities.”
The University will continue to work closely with the Students Union to further develop the proposals. Pablo Riesco, President of Newport Student’s Union said: “The priority for the Students’ Union is to enhance and improve the student experience of all students at the University. Over the challenging times ahead, Newport Students’ Union will be working to ensure that the interests of our students and their views are kept at the forefront of any negotiations.”
The Response to Consultation on the Future Structure and Comparisons of Academic Schools is available.