Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cymru am byth!

Welsh students should be feeling pretty smug at the moment - and English/Scots teenagers should be packing their bags. Why? Because the Welsh government (which doesn't have enough powers yet) has announced that it will pay the fees increase for Welsh students, wherever in the UK they study. Students will pay £3000 as they do now if they're Welsh or have lived in Wales for 3+ years, and if the fees are £9000, the Welsh government will find the rest. Unfortunately, they're taking the money out of the Welsh universities' teaching grant, so we'd better hope that the kids choose Welsh colleges, but it's still great.

The government minister, Leighton Andrews, had some very clear and intelligent things to say about tuition fees.

“We do not support full-cost or near full cost fees. We do not believe that higher education should be organised on the basis of a market.
We have a responsibility to Welsh-domiciled students, wherever they choose to study. We also have a responsibility to ensure that Wales benefits, economically, socially and culturally, from the investment that the Assembly Government makes in higher education in Wales.
“This is a ‘Made in Wales’ policy which demonstrates the benefits of devolution. We are preserving the principle that the state will subsidise higher education and maintain opportunities for all.”

It's also a great idea because it's helping break up the UK. As devolved governments make their own choices, different areas will have varied political and economic priorities, and there will be competition between them. As a fan of breaking up tired post-imperialist constructions (the UK in its current form has been around since 1922) in favour of small, feisty, lefty countries (think Norway), I'm all for it.

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