‘Ministers taking eye off the ball’
THE Welsh Government has been accused of “taking its eye off the ball” when it comes to higher education in light of suspensions at Swansea University.
Plaid Cymru shadow cabinet minister for post-16 education Bethan Sayed AM claimed the situation at the university and recent governance issues in higher education highlighted the issues the sector faced.
Mrs Sayed accused the Welsh Government of “inaction” over the Swansea case after Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams refused to comment on growing concern surrounding the governance situation at the university.
Suspended Swansea University vice-chancellor Professor Richard Davies has accused senior officials at the institution of damaging his reputation, and claimed the university took action against him on the basis of a “negligently flawed investigation”.
In a leaked 10-page grievance letter to members of the University Council, Professor Davies said his suspension had impacted on his mental health.
Both Professor Davies and Professor Marc Clement, dean of the university’s management school, were suspended from their roles in November along with two other members of staff.
Mrs Sayed, who was addressing Education Minister Kirsty Williams in the Senedd said: “There is concern across the sector and from parents that this government has taken its eye off the ball when it comes to post-16 education – the former minister with responsibility for this saying as much last year.
“The college sector is under major pressure. Last year a strike was narrowly averted and workload pressures are still a reality.
“We are also still waiting for progress on long-awaited reforms, recommended in reviews such as the Hazelkorn review.
“We’re also seeing major issues related to governance and funding in the higher education sector. In Swansea University, a respected vice-chancellor of 15 years being suspended and barred from his home, and the University Court postponed without a reason why.
“What are you going to do to hold higher education institutions to account to ensure governance process is adhered to appropriately? “
But the Education Minister refused to comment during the course of the exchange.
Bethan Sayed and Kirsty Williams.