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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Following the money

As clever as the Welsh Government's solution to tuition fees for Welsh domiciled students is, it is becoming apparent that there are still risks and unanswered questions as to how it will work and what the impact will be on Welsh Universities.

This morning's Western Mail encapsulates some of those issues when they focus on how the tuition fee deal would be funded.

The Government say that they will pay for tuition fee grants or a waiver by top-slicing the Higher Education Funding Council teaching grant by around 35% by 2016-17. Additional income will also be available to Welsh universities via students from England paying the higher tuition fees to institutions in Wales:

“The modelling is complex but we estimate that a fee grant or waiver scheme will cost approximately £125m to operate over the next Comprehensive Spending Review period from 2011-12 until 2013-14.

“We estimate that the fee grant or waiver scheme will cost approximately £200m per year to operate by 2016-17.”

However, the risk is that more of the Welsh teaching grant will be paid to English Universities than is made up for in fees coming into Wales. That will put colleges here at a disadvantage. There are also questions as to whether part time students are being as well treated here as they are in England.

The higher education sector seems to be very wary. Those I have spoken to say that they have not seen any figures or modelling so that they cannot judge the impact of the proposals. They are fearful that an extra burden will be created for them to deal with.

All of this could of course be misplaced anxiety, and should not be used to distract from the deal that is provided for Welsh domiciled students, but until the Government publish the detailed modelling we will not know.
Keep in mind that Wales no longer has any of its universities in the top 100 world rankings (THES) while Scotland has four. Also keep in mind that the University of Wales (Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor, and Aber all left the University of Wales), and the University of Wales has very few issued patents on its IP in the largest market for patented goods.

Doesn't Prof. Dylan Jones-Evans work for the University of Wales? Ahh, but he seems to be patent averse but all the same Glyn Davies wants him to run the universities in Wales even though his alma-mater left the University of Wales! Tell me I'm wrong. Someone who writes so much about the need to grow jobs, yet pays lip service to the role of patents and yet writes so much on MIT, how good it is, how much Wales should emulate MIT, but forgets to mention that MIT has thousands of issued patents. Just about every MIT head of department/research that he wrote about are listed on an arm load of patents, but you don't hear that from him. His employer (University of Wales) has an awful record on patenting its discoveries/inventions. Meanwhile Wales is at languishing at the bottom of the UK economic league tables, and Glyn Davies MP actually wants Professor Dylan Jones-Evans to run the universities in Wales.

It seems Glyn Davies MP has lost the plot.
... just looked up the latest world-rankings data; Scotland has five (5) universities in the top 200 world rankings (THES). Wales has Zippo which is not much less than the number of issued patents that University of Wales has in the largest market in the world for patented things, which is kind of surprising given that Professor Dylan Jones-Evans is the Director of Enterprise and Innovation at the University of Wales, which in turn begs the question is the Prof patent averse? And why does Glyn Davies MP want Dylan to run the universities in Wales? Is Glyn so settled that he wants his buddies to run things instead of demanding action on getting Dylan’s employer (UoW) to improve its patent position in the largest single economy in the world?
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