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Written Statement - Higher Education – Franchised Courses

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

In June 2015, the Welsh Government published its Review of higher education delivered by further education institutions.  The review considered the structure and shape of the delivery of higher education at levels 4 and 5 by further education institutions in Wales and made recommendations to strengthen the offer and increase student uptake, particularly for part-time students.

The findings of the Review challenged higher and further education institutions to create stronger partnerships for the delivery of higher education in further education settings. The Review acknowledged that franchise arrangements play a crucial role in ensuring the quality of higher education and encouraged joint strategic working between the further and higher education sectors and a coherent approach to delivery of franchised courses.

Today the Higher Education (Qualifying Courses, Qualifying Persons and Supplementary Provision) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 have been laid before the Assembly. These regulations are to be made by negative resolution.

The regulations prescribe the scope of courses provided by or on behalf of a regulated institution which are to be qualifying courses for the purpose of fee limits under the regulatory system introduced by the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015.  The effect of the regulations, insofar as franchised courses are concerned, is that courses provided on behalf of a regulated institution by an external provider (franchisee) will only be qualifying courses for the purpose of fee limits where the franchisee is a charity. All further education institutions in Wales are charities and the draft regulations ensure that courses delivered on behalf of regulated institutions by further education institutions will be subject to fee limits.

Additionally, the regulations provide clarity as to which courses must be included in regulated institutions’ fee and access plans.    I have already made clear that the Welsh Government wants fee and access plans to make a significant and lasting contribution to widening access to higher education in Wales.