Adduned Cymru – The Welsh Pledge (1)
On 10 December 2012 the University of Wales issued a News Release announcing
“Multi-million pound investment fund announced by the University of Wales Council through the creation of Adduned Cymru – the Welsh Pledge”.
Here they showed how they were generously going to create a fund worth £6.8 million for the benefit of Wales and to safeguard the future of four elements of the current responsibilities of the University, the UoW Press, the UoW Dictionary, the Centre for Advance Welsh and Celtic Studies and the Gregynog centre. To do this they are going to set up a number of new charitable Trusts and recently the Pledge has been published on their website but in a very different format. I sent a Freedom of Information request for further information in early January and in this case on this issue I received an informative and timely reply in February.
The Wales Universities Trust
This will be a Trust to safeguard the numerous charitable gifts the University has received over the years since its establishment in 1893. These gifts were donated, or left in wills, mainly to be invested and the income to be used for specified purposes and the current value of the funds amount to £5.5 million. To establish such a Trust is an admirable act by the University and I wouldn’t have expected the University to do anything else. What I found objectionable was the boastful manner in which this was announced, or at least this is how it came over.
It came out as if the University was generously establishing this Trust from the University’s funds which was, of course, nonsense. These were not the University’s funds; these were funds which were held in trust by the University to be used for the educational purposes according to the donor’s wishes. So the bulk of the generous £6.8 million package was this £5.5 million which was not the University’s money in the first place.
In reply to my question whether the “Wales Universities” in the title referred exclusively to the original colleges of the University I was told “yes substantially but not necessarily”. It was explained that they are still receiving advice on this and a number of other issues and this is understandable. The University will appoint the first Trustees and there will then be discussions with the donors. I was informed that no Business Plan has been prepared but, in this case, I believe that this is not a critical issue.
The Legacy of the Welsh Churches Act
Land that is still held in trust by the University under the Welsh Churches Act will be placed in a new Trust. These lands were placed in trust for the benefit of the University of Wales and other institutions. Since 1939/40 the former colleges, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea have received about £2.7 million each through the transfer and sale of some of these lands. The National Library and the University of Wales have received £1.8 million.
The University’s responsibility under the Welsh Churches Act can only be changed through an Act of Parliament and therefore this will not be done until the final step in the proposed union between the University of Wales and the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David. In the meantime the University Council has agreed that it would be appropriate to establish an independent new Trust to administer the assets which fall within the responsibilities under the Welsh Churches Act as an agent on behalf of the University. This Trust would then take full responsibility once the proposed Act of Parliament has been passed. The University would appoint the initial Trustees.
If the union with UoW:TSD, which many of us are firmly against, does not happen then the responsibilities under the Welsh Churches Act would remain with the University of Wales.
The other proposed new Trusts raise far more questions but more on this in Blog