Alun Davies, Minister for Life Long learning and Welsh Language
I am pleased to inform you that a review of the operation of the Further and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Act 2014 has been undertaken. This was in line with the requirement contained in section 10 of the act to review its operation by 31st July 2016.
The act received Royal Assent in January 2014 and the majority of its provisions were brought into force by September 2014. The act freed colleges from central government control and reinforced the increasingly important role of governors in setting the strategic direction of their institutions. This has resulted in colleges in Wales having greater autonomy – reducing the restrictions on governing bodies, while strengthening their accountability to the students, employers and wider communities which they serve.
As a result of the act, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reclassified colleges in Wales as having ‘Non Profit Institutions Serving Households’ (NPISH) status.
Section 10 of the act contains a requirement for the Welsh Ministers to review the operation of the act in particular its impact on:
- the funding of education provided at further education institutions in Wales for students who are above compulsory school age but have not attained the age of 19
- Welsh language provision at such institutions, (including, for example, the provision of Welsh language lessons to non-Welsh speaking students)
- additional learning needs provision at such institutions.
This review concluded that policies developed in line with the then Programme for Government served to safeguard the 3 areas noted above. Consequently, the Welsh Government now has the mechanisms in place to protect the delivery of 16-19 provision, additional learning needs and Welsh medium and bilingual learning within the Further Education Sector. The operation of the 2014 act has not had a discernable impact on provision in these areas.
I welcome the publication of the review.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.