Plaid Cymru has said the Welsh Government should “rethink” its higher education policies in order to protect the Welsh higher education sector after it emerged that the UK Government plans to place a cap on the number of students from England attending universities in Wales.
On Friday, it was reported that the UK government plans to control numbers of students from England coming to university in Wales in response to the coronavirus.
Plaid Cymru Spokesperson for post-16 education Helen Mary Jones MS – who is covering for Bethan Sayed MS who is on maternity leave, said if the Westminster Government was “serious” in placing caps on English students coming to Wales, then the Welsh Government could equally not maintain the current model which she said “helps almost 40% of Welsh students to leave Wales each year - mostly to study in England”.
Ms Jones said if the number of English students entering higher education institutions in Wales falls then it would be “another hit” the entire sector could not afford.
Last night, Education Minister Kirsty Williams wrote to the UK’s Minister of State for Universities expressing “deep concern” over plans to announce the UK Government’s intention to introduce temporary student number controls in response to the pandemic.
Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for post 16 education, said:
"If the UK Government are serious in considering caps on English students coming to Wales, then surely the Welsh Government cannot maintain the current model which helps almost 40% of Welsh students to leave Wales each year, mostly to study in England.
"If the numbers of English students entering Welsh HE institutions falls, then it will be another hit the whole sector cannot afford right now.
"Long term, there needs to be a serious discussion on whether we continue to fund almost 40% of Welsh students to leave our country, every year. And if there is going to be a cap imposed by the English education minister, then that will require the Welsh Government to rethink its policies, fast, in order to protect the Welsh HE sector and help to strengthen our universities at this critical time".
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