NPC Wales met in Cardiff on 1 November for our first meeting of the academic session. The meeting was attended by representatives from NUS Wales, Bangor, University of Wales College of Medicine, and Cardiff.
Petition on Assembly Learning Grants
The meeting noted our petition had received a response from the Assembly's Higher Education Division as summarised in the latest issue of our newsletter, pn Wales. It was agreed that NPC Wales would make further representations to the Assembly arguing for postgraduates to be allowed to apply for Assembly Learning Grants.
Enquiries on Rees Report Recommendations
The NPC Wales chair had written to the Assembly asking for an update on progress on implementing the Rees report recommendations. The Rees report has been endorsed in principle by the Minister and Select Committee for Education and Lifelong Learning but no action has been taken to implement the postgraduate recommendations, other than to refer the relevant sections to UK Government for consideration in their ongoing review of Higher Education. Seeking further clarification, the chair wrote in August asking how the recommendations which call for the National Assembly to act were being implemented. These were recommendations nos 46 and 48 (in co-operation with ELWa and DWP respectively). No reply has been received to this letter three months after it was received.
We discussed the idea of collecting evidence of the problems faced by writing-up students that could be submitted to the Assembly and the DWP to encourage them to act on recommendation 48. The Chair agreed to pursue this and will be in contact with unions to see what examples there are in Wales of hardship experienced by writing-up students with the aim of writing a report on this topic.
Widening Participation in Postgraduate Education?
Following a session on this topic at the NPC annual conference, the meeting discussed whether any policy maker or politician had ever considered postgraduate study in terms of widening participation. We couldn't think of any examples(!) and thought this was area that badly needs to be addressed in Wales, and the UK as a whole. It is a possible area for future campaigning by the NPC and we would welcome suggestions on this issue.
NPC Wales Constitution
This was referred to the next meeting, where proposals will be presented.
It is planned to hold the next meeting of NPC Wales in Bangor, hopefully immediately preceding NUS Spring Conference.