Collaboration Plan to Broaden Choices for Students over 16; as Another Schools Protest Came to the Maes Yesterday, a Group of Universities and Colleges Unveiled Their Vision for Transforming Post-16 Education in Their Region. Steve Dub Reports: Urdd Eisteddfodd 2010

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Byline: Steve Dub

FIVE of the biggest education institutions in West Wales will work together under an agreement announced yesterday.

The scheme is designed to broaden the amount of choice available to students over the age of 16.

The institutions involved are the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea Metropolitan University, Pembrokeshire College, Coleg Sir Gr and Coleg Ceredigion.

The aim of the statement of intent, which was announced on the Urdd Eisteddfod maes in Llanerchaeron yesterday - is to provide enhanced student choice and develop joint educational provision which responds to the needs of employers.

Under the system, the universities and colleges will remain independent, but will share certain resources.

Dr Medwin Hughes, Vice-Chancellor Designate of UW Trinity Saint David, the new institution created by the merger of Trinity University College and the University of Wales Lampeter, said the higher education sector in Wales faces challenges in meeting the strategic objectives of the Assembly Government.

"The strategy identifies the necessity to consider the implications of strategic partnerships and new reconfiguration models," he said. "This proposal builds upon the current reconfiguration already approved by the Assembly Government within the region with the creation of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David."

He said Wales needed to be more innovative in how the country's education system was organised.

Last year, five of Wales' biggest universities signed the St David's Day Declaration, which pledged to work together to help the country's knowledge economy.

Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Glamorgan and Swansea - which jointly represent 70% of students in Wales and 95% of research activity - all signed the declaration.

Dr Hughes said it was now appropriate to develop another level of collaboration.

He added: "The time is right to establish new educational structures which will transform the educational landscape.

"Wales needs to be innovative in its educational system and delivery frameworks in order to establish regional groupings which will enhance economic delivery, support social capital and drive forward greater regional post-16 educational pathways. …