South East Wales

University of Wales Newport's plan for new institution

Newport University's new city campus
Image caption Newport University said a bigger university could deliver for Wales

A blueprint for a new super-university in south east Wales has been unveiled in response to a challenge to institutions to "adapt or die".

The University of Wales Newport said its plan for a bigger institution could deliver "what's necessary" for Wales.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw) has said the current 11 universities should be cut to six.

It has called for Newport, the University of Glamorgan and Uwic in Cardiff to join forces.

A Hefcw report in July said it should involve a new "metropolitan" university for south east Wales.

Newport said its proposal was "seeking to build" on the Hefcw report.

It follows Education Minister Leighton Andrews's challenge last year to universities to "adapt or die".

Mr Andrews has said Welsh universities will only be permitted to charge increased tuition fees from September 2012, upon which their survival will depend, if they can demonstrate they intended to collaborate more closely.

Since then, a number of Welsh universities have announced talks on possible moves to cooperate or merge.

In making its case, Newport say it must protect the work it has done within the city and the Gwent valleys.

Newport University vice-chancellor Dr Peter Noyes said: "The future we're outlining through this consultation process is a new university for south east Wales.

'Huge contribution'

"It will have an impact upon international higher education and the international economy, but specifically in this document we are outlining the fact that there is a huge contribution from the University of Newport to its local community.

"Over £100m a year is invested in the local community as a result of the university being here, and it's that that we wish to protect and enhance and strengthen as a result of the new university coming into operation.

"The minister and the funding council have indicated that they would like a larger institution that can compete against the metropolitan institutions that exist across the border, and that's as almost as far as they've gone in respect of defining what sort of things this institution can do.

"In our document we think a bigger institution, with the strengths of which ever parties take part, could deliver what's necessary for the local community and Wales generally."

The university said it was one of Wales' most successful at "opening up education to people from disadvantaged backgrounds", and more than half of its 9,500 students come from the Gwent region.

Pablo Riesco, president of Newport Student's Union said: "Over the challenging times ahead, Newport Students' Union will be working to ensure that the interests of our students and their views are kept at the forefront of any negotiations."

The University of Glamorgan said it would not comment while a consultation period into the future of higher education was continuing.

Uwic said it was drafting its own submission ahead of a 5 October deadline and was not in a position to comment at this stage.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The [Hefcw] report sets out very clear recommendations for the future of the sector.

"We have published the report in full and are now seeking representations from stakeholders and the public on the council's recommendations. We welcome all views."

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