No.7: University of Wales: Why I started investigating

Why I started investigating the University of Wales

Like many other University of Wales graduates I’d been shocked by the revelations in the BBC Wales programme “Week In Week Out” about the failure of management at the University.   I was even more shocked to hear of the decision of the University Council on 21 October 2011 to dissolve the University through a merger with the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David.    I was at home recovering from a huge hernia operation and saw a letter from Dafydd Glyn Jones published in the Welsh language weekly newspaper, “Y Cymro” in October 2011.   

I wrote a letter in response commenting on the incompetence of the University Council; commenting on the lack of robust management systems at the University; calling for the assets of the University to be transferred to an independent Trust and calling on the Welsh Government to establish an independent investigation to established how this once proud university came to collaborate with and validate degrees at some very doubtful educational establishments.   Incredibly the Welsh Government still hasn’t conducted an independent enquiry into what went wrong.   How else can the Welsh Government learn lessons and take steps to ensure that such a scandal doesn’t happen again within higher education in Wales?

Unfortunately I wasn’t recovering well and the GP discovered that I had a huge infection and I had to return to hospital for another couple of weeks.   After a few days the antibiotic injections started taking effect, I was feeling better and asked my wife to bring in my laptop.  Thanks to a kind patient in the bed opposite I was able to get on the internet and I started to investigate the colleges with whom the University was collaborating and learnt about these institutions, both overseas and private colleges in the UK.  

I then decided to investigate the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David (UoW:TSD) and found that this university also had dozens of collaborations, mainly in the School of Theology and the School of Business.     Some of these collaborative colleges looked very doubtful and it occurred to me that moving from the University of Wales to UoW:TSD would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire!

From my hospital bed I wrote an open letter to Prof Medwin Hughes, Vice-chancellor of UoW: TSD, asking questions about these collaborative arrangements and about one in particular, a private college “College of Technology London”.   This was a college in London for overseas students and it was possible to compete a UoW:TSD degree in London in 2 years whereas the same degree for students studying at Lampeter would take 3 years.    The letter was published in “Y Cymro” and in due course I received a reply from Prof Hughes stating that one of his first acts on becoming Vice-Chancellor of the university in 2010 was to bring these collaborative arrangements to an end but that some would continue until current students had completed their courses.   I was pleased to learn this. 

I often wonder whether I would have done all this internet research if I not been in hospital.   If I’d been at home, probably not as I would have spent my time on other things.   As it was, this gave me something interesting to do with my time in hospital and it probably aided my recovery!   I learnt enormously through the research I did during this period and it has been the foundation for understanding what was going on and has enabled to know where to look in undertaking further research. 

I’ve learnt so much during the past 15 months and I’m still making discoveries.   I want people to know the truth about what is going on at the University of Wales and I’ll be bringing out many interesting facts in these Blogs over the next few weeks.   I’ve started with the correspondence with the Privy Council and the case put to the Privy Council that the decision taken at the University Council on 21 October 2011 was not valid. 

These issues are critical as it will be the decisions taken by the Privy Council that will decide the fate of the University of Wales.

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