Voice Official Response: Tertiary Education and Research Commission for Wales
Background: The Welsh Government consulted on further proposals for the establishment and operation of the Tertiary Education and Research Commission for Wales. The commission will:
- oversee strategic planning of educational and skills delivery across all post-compulsory education and training;
- be responsible for funding, contracting, quality, financial monitoring and audit of all post-compulsory education and training; and
- manage and fund all of Welsh Government supported research and innovation.
Summary: General points regarding the creation of the Commission:
- As all of the sectors working in PCET have been working with reduced budgets in recent years, an unhealthy environment of competition between sectors has developed. We agree with the proposal that the Commission forms effective working relationships between the Commission and learning providers. We would also ask the Commission to stimulate a culture of collaboration between sectors wherever possible for the benefit of learners and the workforce, and to ensure that competition for funding is kept to a minimum. It is important for each sector to recognize the invaluable contribution that other sectors make in PCET, and collaboration will contribute to minimizing inefficiency and duplication.
- We welcome the emphasis on establishing strong links with employers in each region and the proposal to incorporate the Wales Employment & Skills Board and the Wales Apprenticeships Advisory Board within the Commission so that communication can be effective within one independent organisation. It is very important that regions have strong links with regional employers so that local provision reflects local employers’ needs.
- There is currently a funding dichotomy in the PCET sector: Voice’s Welsh Executive Committee members are aware that FE Colleges are increasingly reluctant to permit students to undergo WBL experience because good students are offered employment without finishing their courses, and Colleges are then liable to have funding for those students withdrawn. This means that courses that are viable to run at the courses’ commencement can become unviable partway through, or that courses that limit WBL then deliver students whom have passed all the outcome criteria but whom have not gained sufficient work-based skills when their courses are completed.
- We ask for the Commission to give some thought to this funding limitation when planning funding allocation within the PCET sector in future.