Cyflwyniad dwyieithog o archwiliad beirniadol hynod ddiddorol o swyddogaeth prifysgolion modern ym meysydd adfywio eu heconomi lleol ac annog menter, sef darlith a draddodwyd yn Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru Dinbych 2001.
A bilingual presentation of a highly interesting critical exploration of the role of modern day universities in the fields of regenerating their local economies and promoting enterprise, being a lecture delivered at the Denbigh Welsh National Eisteddfod 2001.
There are 170 institutions of Higher Education in the UK, with a turnover of £11 billion and a total economic impact of about £40 billion. In Wales we have thirteen HE institutions with a turnover of £500 million and a multiple effect worth at least £2 billion. Universities alone employ more than 300,000 people in the UK, some 12,000 of them here in Wales.
This book, which started life as a lecture at the National Eisteddfod of 2001, is by the Vice-Chancellor of South Bank University and former Vice-Provost of London Guildhall University, whom I remember as an undergraduate in Aberystwyth in the 1950s. Published in a bilingual format with support from the Institute of Welsh Affairs and the WDA, it is a critique of the function of HE bodies in regenerating their local economies and stimulating enterprise.
As a convinced pro-European and Labour supporter, the author examines the prospects facing Universities in the UK within a European context, focussing in particular on the Welsh Universities. The main thesis of his lecture is that they must become more entrepreneurial in their outlook in addition to pursuing their traditional roles as centres of excellence in which teaching and research are kept to the fore.
The implications of this new spirit of making Universities pay their own way while also contributing to their local economies are drawn with a broad brush. The problem in Wales is a peculiar one. Our Universities (for a century or so we had only one, the federal University of Wales) have for long turned out more than their share of graduates, most of whom leave Wales immediately after graduation. The trend is now towards mergers, so that bigger and richer institutions can attract staff and students as never before. The fact is that all except Oxbridge, which has reserves of £2 billion, are badly underfunded and many are in serious deficit. In 2000 the total surplus of all HE institutions in Wales was some £3 million and five colleges had made a loss.
Against this background of underfunding, the Universities are expected to develop partnerships with industry and commerce and to turn themselves into enterprise zones in their own right and become part of a knowledge economy. Many are concerned that this could have baneful consequences for teaching and research alike. The groves of Academe, it is feared, are in danger of being turned into business parks.
It remains to be seen what happens. Since Deian Hopkin delivered his lecture, the National Assembly has published its report on Education and Lifelong Learning, recommending changes to the organisation and resourcing of HE in Wales. The implication is that the present situation is unsustainable both on grounds of scale and diversity. A more active role is envisaged for Education and Learning in Wales (ELWa) and the Higher Education Funding Council.
Its no wonder that Universities feel they are living in interesting times. Deian Hopkin, although we may take issue with some of his observations, has used his expertise and incisive style to open up a debate that the Universities of Wales will ignore at their peril.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.