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Monday, June 06, 2005

Knowing the cost

It has to be said that the Western Mail's big story this morning on the cost of Higher Education in Wales shed more heat than light on the subject. The problem was that they based their research on answers to Assembly Questions, which are notorious for taking a political position rather then delivering facts.

Thus the full cost of not having top-up fees in Wales was put at £122.2m in year four without making it clear that this applies to both English and Welsh domiciled students rather than just the latter, as the Assembly resolution sought the week before last. The figures also included the cost of paying the fees for Welsh domiciled students in English and Scottish HEIs, a proposal that may prove problematic because of European law. What they did not include was the amount of money the Assembly will receive from the Westminster Government as a Barnett-consequential of the Higher Education Act, which money can be off-set against the cost of any Welsh solution.

All in all the article felt like it had been placed by a Government spin doctor seeking to play hard ball in advance of this morning's meeting of the three opposition party leaders with the First Minister. Further meetings are planned but it would not be helpful for me to use this blog to seek to assist my side in the talks, just as it is unhelpful for the Government to spin to the media in this way.
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