The website of the University of Wales records that its establishment one hundred and twenty years ago, was largely thanks to the generosity of miners, farmers, quarry workers and other ordinary people who contributed so much. At that time, many of them were still in poverty, yet longed for education and the decent job it brought. One thing that the university website says will never change, is its commitment to continue serving the Welsh people, forever.
Sadly, very sadly it seems that all these good intentions are now about to change.
News just out is that the Welsh Assembly Government is currently debating a review commissioned by itself, that recommends the University close unless it changes radically. This is because its major role has become validating overseas education standards in 30 countries where 15,000 students currently study for its degrees. Now, questions are being asked how an icon of Welsh pride could become a rubber stamp for some very questionable foreign institutions, and whether that is the way that the Welsh brand should be preserved.
There are two solutions on the table. One, by the institution itself would see it merged with three other Welsh universities equally laboring under the whip of government cuts. The other, by the administration envisages the university’s transformation into a national higher education advisory council.
The harsher truth is that young Welsh people have drifted away to brighter city lights in increasing numbers, and that student demand is likely to remain low. The government announced its determination several months ago that uneconomic universities must either merge, or fade away. That this decision affects an icon of national pride seems neither here nor there to some.
In the interim, the University of Wales has pledged to pursue its academic responsibilities with the utmost diligence. The jury is still out on whether the miners, farmers, quarry workers and other ordinary people who contributed so much towards it 120 years ago, will see their contribution towards higher education standards patronized by young Welsh people, for much longer.