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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Funding a higher purpose

The scale of the Welsh Labour-Plaid Cymru Government's failure to support our Higher Education Institutions was laid bare yesterday with the publication of a report by the Higher Education Fundng Council for Wales that has revealed that the Higher Education funding gap between England and Wales has widened by a massive 50%.

The investment gap has increased from an alarming £40million in 2004/05 to a huge £61 million for 2005/06.

Commenting on the figures, Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Education said: “While the Plaid Labour Government play around with free laptops and free car parking our Higher Education institutions and the future of our knowledge-based economy is being hung out to dry.“China, with its stringent education system and work ethic, is fast showing that 'knowledge' is a key asset in setting the course for sturdy and vigorous economic development. The importance of the 'knowledge economy' is only set to grow, so why is the Plaid-Labour Government failing to invest in its future?"

It seems that the Minister has been sitting on this information since last Autumn and her continued denial of any gap simply adds insult to injury particularly when it is estimated that the gap is continuing its upward trend. HEFCW are predicting that the gap will get even bigger next year.

The increasing funding gap is making it harder and harder for Wales to compete with England in the quality of education delivery. This is nothing to do with the high quality of our institutions, lecturers, researchers and students but simply because our Welsh Government is not investing in the sector.
Come on Peter, that's not fair - there was no One Wales Government in 2005/06 so you can't blame them for this funding gap (at least not yet...).
You might think that but as there is no extra money for this in the current budget then it seems that Plaid are not committed to doing anything about it.
Peter, your party was working with the Labour party too, seems your party wasn't committed to doing anything constructive about this issue either. Do you really think we are so dumb we don't spot that?
That's all very well but what would you LibDems do to solve this problem considering the tight budgetary constraints?
Anon 6.16pm: you appear to have got your timelines mixed up. The Welsh Liberal Democrats were in partnership with Labour from 2000-2003 during which time spending on HE went up. From 2003 we have been pressing for resources to close the spending gap and got an agreement off Labour to deal with this. Labour have reneged on that agreement and Plaid are aiding them through the latest budget.

Ryan: The above should partly answer your question. This is not something that can be dealt with overnight but progress in closing the gap can be built into the budget process over a number of years.
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