On Tuesday 7 July a group of campaigners went to the Welsh Assembly and met their Assembly Members.
Afterwards UCU (the University and College Union) issued the following press release. Campaigners were pleased by the First Minister's comments towards the end of the document below, and heartened to see so much support from our AMs:
UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE UNION (UCU)
date: Wednesday 8 July
for immediate release
Assembly members agree to apply pressure on Cardiff University over cuts
The University and College Union (UCU) said today (Wednesday) that they were delighted Assembly Members from across the political spectrum would be putting pressure on Cardiff University to halt plans to cuts jobs and courses. The job cuts were even debated in the Chamber by Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Spokeswoman, Jenny Randerson, and the First Minister – full details at the end of the release.
Campaigners from Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning met politicians at the Welsh Assembly yesterday (Tuesday 7 July). A petition with more than 2,000 signatories urging the university to reject proposals to scrap all teaching in Humanities and Welsh at the centre was handed in to Jenny Randerson, Assembly Member for Cardiff Central and Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Spokeswoman.
Campaigners then met with Assembly Members from across the political divide, including Christine Chapman, Lorraine Barrett and Jeff Cuthbert Labour, Andrew R.T. Davies and Paul Davies, Conservative and Chris Franks, Plaid Cymru – who agreed to write to the university management suggesting they consider a 12-month period of consultation to engage fully with trade unions and staff to agree new proposals which will protect the maximum number of jobs and courses.
Commenting after receiving a petition at the Senedd, Jenny Randerson said: “I was delighted to meet with the staff again today. I think that the university now has an option for a clear way forward by way of a 12 month suspension of the plans in order to fully discuss the impact and the options for a sustainable future for the department.
“Everyone knows that in a time of economic crisis, money gets tight, but this facility is so essential for the university itself, its staff and students and the wider community. I hope that the Petitions Committee will consider the matter urgently and also that the university will now be able to strongly consider a new way forward.”
Susan Morgan, a creative writing tutor at the Centre and member of the campaign team, said: “The centre plays a crucial part in the health and well-being of people in the local community as well as offering access to Higher Education to all, regardless of background.”
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “We are delighted that so many AMs offered their support. Like us, they understand the potential and power of education, particularly in these tough times, to make a real difference to people’s lives. Cardiff University can be in no doubt at the level of support our campaign now has and must immediately halt the planned cuts.”
The campaign to save Humanities and Welsh began when the university announced plans on 20 April to cut 250 courses at the centre, leaving hundreds of adult learners across South East Wales unable to complete their studies and fulfil their potential. Since then it has gained wide support from Cardiff University undergraduates, staff from other academic departments in the university, the university senate, other educational establishments, the media and several hundred students at the centre, past and present.
Full details of a subsequent exchange between Jenny Randerson and the First Minister in the Chamber are below:
Jenny Randerson: Today, I received a petition, which will be presented in due course to the Petitions Committee, from the employees of the lifelong learning department at Cardiff University.
Cardiff University is being forced to make stringent savings across the board. In that particular department, I think that you will agree that the method of making those savings is deeply regrettable and could well have implications for equality as well as for adults’ continuing learning. Do you accept that our higher education sector needs to be much better resourced in future, way above the plans of your Minister for education, if our universities are to compete and behave in a way that will make Wales proud?
The First Minister: Extension courses by external university departments, such as the lifelong learning centre at Cardiff University, are certainly a high educational priority. The question that you asked and the petition that will be presented really depend on two words that you used early on in your question: 'forced to'. Really, the whole issue revolves around that notion. Was Cardiff University forced to or not? I think that the university is currently giving careful consideration to all the points made to it, because it seems that some schools of thought believe that the university has made a mistake.
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