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Kirsty Williams MS, Minister for Education

First published:
25 February 2021
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

I have today published the summary of responses to the draft Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Bill consultation.

The Commission for Tertiary Education and Research will be the future regulator for both higher and further education institutions based in Wales, and the primary funder of tertiary education. 

The draft Bill set out our proposals to create the new Commission that would replace the current Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and have the tools to ensure a strong mutual relationship between citizens, communities, researchers and providers.

It will have responsibility for the apprenticeship programme and adult community based- education, and mainstream sixth form school based PCET delivery through local authorities, as well as having responsibility for much Welsh Government funded higher level research and innovation.

I had hoped that we would have delivered the Bill through the Senedd before the end of this government term. I am pleased that we have still managed to use the opportunity of a draft Bill for further consultation, so that the next government has the ability to move quickly with this much-needed reform.

The consultation showed broad support for the new Commission, as well as responses which have prompted further exploration of a range of policy and legislative options.  The Draft Bill puts learners at the centre of the reforms and includes specific provisions to protect them in uncertain times such as these, as well as introducing a requirement for the Commission to publish a new code for learner engagement in the governance and management of providers. 

I was particularly pleased to see positive comments regarding the willingness of the different parts of the sector to collaborate in a shared endeavour to provide the best opportunities and choices for learners, building on existing partnerships and encouraging even more. I also welcome stakeholders’ commitment to engage fully in the implementation process, with one instance being the recognition of the need to be fully involved with the development of Outcome Agreements in order for them to be effective.

It was gratifying to see the support for continuing and furthering the work on Civic Mission. I believe that the broad definition on the face of the Bill will provide a long-standing statutory focus on this key issue. I was also pleased to see that the majority of respondents believed the draft Bill would have a positive impact on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language, with broad support for the Commission’s proposed duties in relation to Welsh-medium tertiary education.