Towards 2030: The Hazelkorn Review

The Welsh Government recently published an Independent Review of the Regulation and Oversight of Post-Compulsory Education and Training in Wales, with special reference to the future role and function of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

More commonly known as the Hazelkorn review, the report was commissioned in July 2015 and led by Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, a widely known figure in Irish education.

The review’s ambit includes the entire post-16 education landscape in Wales, and is ‘ambitious and forward-looking, mindful of future scenarios for the landscape of Welsh society and the economy towards 2030, and of Wales’ position within the United Kingdom and within an increasingly competitive Europe and global economy.’

Identifying challenges that Wales’ currently faces as ‘demographic, social and economic’ with ‘a combination of uneven regional development, weak education and employability skills, a changing labour market mix, and the lack of major large centres with the primary exception of Cardiff’, the review outlines recommendations for how to build a framework for a ‘world-class post-compulsory education system for Wales’.

Its primary recommendations include:

  1. Developing an overarching vision for the post-compulsory education system for Wales – based upon stronger links between policy providers and socio-economic goals
  2. Establishing a single new authority – to be called the Tertiary Education Authority (TEA) – as the single regulatory, oversight and coordinating authority
  3. Placing the needs of learners at the centre of the educational system, by establishing clear and flexible learning and career pathways
  4. Embedding civic engagement as a core mission and institution-wide commitment
  5. Creating a balance between supply-led and demand-led education and research provision
  6. Creating the appropriate policies, processes and practices to encourage better long-term thinking about the educational needs and requirements for Wales.

Perhaps most notable is recommendation to abolish the HEFCW in order to replace it with the TEA – should the next Welsh Government respond to and take forward these proposals, this would be a fundamental divergence from current sector practice.

It is an interesting review, and one to watch closely as it may ultimately determine the future of post-16 education in Wales:  its recommendations have been broadly welcomed by Colegau Cymru, NTFW and Universities Wales. Whilst the devil will inevitably be in the detail, leading no doubt to impassioned debate on all sides, the principle of greater cooperation between the HE and FE sectors is a sound one (and, in many cases, is already being put into practice to one extent or another).  As the recent announcements regarding Aston Martin and TVR illustrate, the success of our economy depends on the equal vibrancy and efficacy of both sectors.

Iestyn Morris, Partner