North East Wales

Glyndwr Uni to leave University of Wales alliance

Glyndwr University in Wrexham plans to leave the alliance of institutions making up the University of Wales.

The decision follows recent proposals by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw) to amalgamate Glyndwr with other universities.

The institution's plans to award its own degrees signal an intention to remain independent.

Hefcw said it did not wish to comment on the plans. The Welsh Government has been asked to comment.

Glyndwr vice-chancellor Professor Michael Scott said the decision was a measure of Glyndwr University's "significant growth and progress" in the past three years.

Earlier this month a proposition by Hefcw suggesting that Glyndwr teams up with other further education colleges under the leadership of Aberystwyth and Bangor universities, met opposition from a number of Labour MPs and AMs in north east Wales.

They included Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, who said the proposal displayed a "woeful ignorance" of local needs and would take leadership away from the region.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews was handed a blueprint for merging universities in the summer, and recommendations from Hefcw would cut the number from 11 to six.

Prof Scott said: "Having enjoyed three successful years since gaining university status, we believe the time is now to put the taught degree awarding powers we worked hard to gain in 2008 into operation.

"The university has established itself as a respected, growing international brand as well as fostering key partnerships and taking a leading role in economic and social development in north east Wales.

"In 2010 we introduced a new institutional and commissioning structure.

"This has significantly strengthened the university's ability to monitor the quality, cost and relevance of the courses we offer and to ensure they are meeting the needs of the region, the country and our students."

'Delivering our mission'

The changes mean Glyndwr will fully award its own degrees rather than those from the University of Wales.

Students enrolling for 2011 courses will be offered the opportunity to register for Glyndwr University degrees, but can also choose to receive a University of Wales degree.

The change will not apply to postgraduate research students, such as those studying for PhDs.

The University of Wales Alliance was formed in 2009 and comprises Wales' smallest and newest higher education institutions, including a number in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Carmarthen.

In the past seven years Cardiff, Bangor, Swansea and Aberystwyth universities have opted out of the institution.

Commenting on the future membership of the University of Wales Alliance, a spokesperson for the University of Wales, Newport said: "Newport is currently focused on securing the best future for delivering our mission in the Gwent region through developing our response to the consultation on reconfiguration of the HE sector in Wales.

"In the meantime, we will note any developments within the sector but decisions about our future relationships will be framed by our response to the Welsh Government's consultation."

Glyndwr, formerly the North East Wales Institute, was granted university status in 2008 and named after medieval rebel prince Owain Glyndwr.

Trinity Saint David and Swansea Metropolitan universities recently announced plans for a formal merger with the University of Wales.

Uwic pulled out of the proposed new "super university" in July, citing a "lack of attention to good governance, due process and administration."

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