On 29 December 2010, Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills, stated his intention to reduce the number of Higher Education Institutions (HEI's) in Wales down to size - what he described as 'a sustainable size for Wales'. He stated that his overall goal is to create a "a smaller number of stronger universities”
He has announced that his intentions are for:
The University of Glamorgan, Cardiff Metropolitan University and University of Wales, Newport, to merge (and seems willing to force this if not all institutions are in agreement with the plan)
Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities to strengthen their strategic alliance, although this stops short of a merger at this time.
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea Metropolitan University should merge as already planned
Cardiff and Swansea Universities should continue to develop their considerable research and collaborative potential - therefore no major changes
However, the Minister rejected the recommendation that Glyndwr University should move into a group structure managed by Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities and instead proposed to commission a review of this issue. This, and discussions with all institutions involved in this agenda will continue in the new year.
In response to this, NUS Wales President Luke Young issued a press release stating:
"We welcome the Minister's clarity on his intentions, but while the details are being thrashed out between institutions, we warn against losing sight of what is fundamentality important - the individual students that will be affected by these proposals.
I am concerned by the suggestion of forced mergers and dissolution of universities. It will not be helpful to higher education in Wales to create a stand off between university vice chancellors and the government. What we need is sensible, clear and well-evidenced proposals that ensure that the provision currently available is protected and that the student experienced is enhanced. Students need to be full partners in this process.
We welcome the Minister's view that Glyndwr University should not enter a group structure with other universities; this ensures that diversity of institutions in North Wales is protected – this is in line with our policy."