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Government unconcerned at drain of cash from Welsh Universities

January 22, 2013 4:21 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Finance Minister, Peter Black has raised with the First Minister, evidence from Cardiff University to an Assembly Committee that the Welsh Government's tuition fee regime has led to £10 million of the Welsh block grant going to English Universities.

Mr. Black was referring to Cardiff University's submission to the Assembly's Finance Committee on the draft budget, which pointed out that as the subsidy to Welsh students was being financed from the University teaching grant, then if the number of Welsh students studying in England exceeded those going to home universities, there would be a net drain on the money available to spend on higher education in Wales.

In its evidence to Committee Cardiff University identified that because more Welsh students were studying in England than there are English students going to Welsh Universities then there has been a net payment to English Higher Education Institutions of £10 million. That is money that has come out of the teaching grant for Welsh Universities.

"Unfortunately, the First Minister did not recognise the very difficult situation he has placed Welsh Universities in," said Mr. Black. "Although I support the subsidy introduced by the Welsh Government to reduce the tuition fees payable by Welsh students, there are huge questions about how sustainable the funding of this is and the impact it will have on universities themselves.

"It is an unfortunate, but avoidable side effect that the Welsh Labour Government is now giving Welsh money back to England in this way. Such a feat has not been seen since the days of John Redwood. We need an urgent review of how this scheme is funded so as to ensure that it does not lead to an even bigger funding gap between England and Wales for higher education."