In one of his final acts of 2022, the Welsh Government Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, set in motion the first commencement Order under the Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Act to create the Commission as a legal entity.
The establishment of CTER is a landmark piece of legislation, that introduces some of the most significant reforms to the architecture of our education system since devolution. Wales will be the first country in the UK to pioneer a single overarching regulatory, oversight and coordinating authority for tertiary education. The Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Act was one of the final bills to be given Royal Assent by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, before her passing earlier this year.
CTER now exists as a legal entity, although it will not become fully operational until April 2024, this will enable Welsh Ministers to appoint the core members of the Commission and carry out key corporate implementation activities.ColegauCymru notes the appointment of the candidates for the roles of Chair of CTER, Dame Professor Julie Lydon, and Deputy Chair of CTER, Professor David Sweeney.
It is essential that the voice of the FE sector is clearly heard within the Commission. We don’t want a return to the days of FE being seen as the Cinderella service within post-16 education, and that will require the leadership of the Commission to understand the distinct needs of learners within the sector and the different ways that colleges serve their local communities. We look forward to working alongside them and their team in the years ahead to ensure the unique role of further education is recognised, and that CTER helps us realise our vision for world-class further education in Wales.
It will be the responsibility of CTER to deliver the vision set out in the recommendations of Professor Ellen Hazelkorn’s 2016 report, Towards 2030: A framework for building a world-class post-compulsory education system for Wales, of an integrated and coherent post-compulsory educational system with pathways and opportunities for all learners. Professor Hazelkorn wrote that:
“a single oversight body for tertiary education makes sense at a time when nations were increasingly devoting more policy attention to those who do not attend university, and thus looking increasingly at developing “more coherent” post-compulsory systems.”
Since its inception, ColegauCymru has highlighted the need for CTER to properly address the issue of nugatory competition for learners (both between school sixth forms and FE, and FE and HE in terms of access courses) which often still leads to inefficiency, not providing the best opportunities for learners and not obtaining best value for the public purse. The ethos of the objectives behind the Act lay the foundations for parity of esteem.
Though the Act provides the structural framework, much of the detail remains to be finalised through subordinate legislation and regulations which we expect in the new year. As the subordinate legislation is laid, we also look forward to securing a deeper understanding of the nature of the relationship between CTER and Welsh Government, and how any potential differences of opinion may be resolved.
The Act gives CTER 11 strategic duties to address including matters such as promoting life-long learning; encouraging participation in tertiary education; promoting equality of opportunity and research and innovation and promoting a civic mission. The strategic duty on equality is critical in terms of developing a fairer and more equal Wales and will build on recent Welsh Government work on anti-racism and LGBTQ+.
The establishment of CTER is a hugely significant milestone. We remain committed to engaging with CTER and Welsh Government to ensure that we make CTER a success, for colleges, for learners, and the entirety of the post-16 sector, with lifelong learning and education for all at its heart. We are confident that together we have the expertise to make the Commission a pioneering success.
Welsh Government Cabinet Statement
Written Statement: Establishment of the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research - Appointment of the Chair and Deputy Chair
22 December 2022
Written Statement: Establishment of the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research - Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Act (Commencement No.1) Order 2022
13 December 2022
Rachel Cable, Director of Policy and Public Affairs
Jamie Adair, Policy and Public Affairs Assistant