Audit Wales sets out current picture of higher and further education

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ColegauCymru has welcomed the recent Audit Wales report A Picture of Higher and Further Education which looks specifically at the issues facing the sectors and the challenges faced by learners. The independent report looks at the impact of Covid19 on post compulsory learning and highlights key areas of concern and how learners and students as well as institutions have adapted to the impact of the pandemic. 

Reflecting on the analysis, ColegauCymru agrees with many of the Audit Wales assessments of the opportunities and challenges regarding the reform of post-16 education: the need to maintain the strengthened collaboration with Welsh Government, flexibility and ongoing development of digital learning techniques. 
Similarly, it acknowledges that the concerns the body raises over the need to get the Welsh Government proposed Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER) right, including its leadership and need to inspire trust among all relevant partners, are timely and highly relevant as we continue to feel the impact of lockdown and disrupted learning. 
Most concerning is the report’s finding that “The effect [of the pandemic] seems to have been most negative for those in the vocational sector, especially at lower qualification levels, and for learners who are already vulnerable due to deprivation, circumstances at home or learning disabilities”
ColegauCymru Chief Executive Iestyn Davies said,

“The Audit Wales report reflects the challenging circumstances facing further and higher education, not just in relation to Covid19, but the anticipated CTER Bill, the impact of the Curriculum for Wales, and qualification reform. The report also notes the negative impact of the pandemic on part-time learners, especially those in Adult Community Learning.”

Mr Davies added,

“Colleges will continue to do all they can to support staff and learners as we emerge from this challenging time. It is unacceptable that vulnerable learners are at risk of being hardest hit by the effects of Covid19 and Welsh Government must continue to work with the further education sector, both in the short and long term, to ensure that disadvantage is not further entrenched.” 

The Charity calls on Welsh Government to acknowledge the report as it sets out its Renew and Reform programme to support higher and further education institutions to address ongoing challenges faced by students. It has also written to the Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee asking for the report to be considered as a matter of urgency and prior to its scrutiny of the proposed bill to establish a Commission for Tertiary Education and Research.  

Further Information

Audit Wales 
A Picture of Higher and Further Education
21 October 2021 

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