Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015


The Welsh Parliament's Children, Young People and Education Committee undertook short and focussed post-legislative scrutiny of the Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015.

The Higher Education (Wales) Act 2015 intended to:

(a)  “ensure robust and proportionate regulation of institutions in Wales whose courses are supported by Welsh Government backed higher education grants and loans;

(b)  safeguard the contribution made to the public good arising from the Welsh Government’s financial subsidy of higher education;

(c)  maintain a strong focus on fair access to higher education; and

(d)  preserve and protect the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of universities.”

The Committee was mindful that work on the Welsh Government’s proposed Post-compulsory Education, Training and Research (PCETR) reforms were well-advanced.

It was keen therefore to understand how well the 2015 Act was working, and what lessons could be learned from the Act, before any new legislation was introduced.

To do this, the Committee considered:

  • if the Act is achieving its aims, and if not why;
  • if the costings have been achieved, and if not why;
  • if the Act has achieved overall value for money;
  • how well the Act has been implemented and is working in practice, including any unintended consequences;
  • the outcomes from the Welsh Government’s formal reviews of the Act; and
  • any good practice and lessons learned from both the Act and its preparation (i.e. the process by which the Act was formulated, drafted, consulted on and so forth).

To note, the aim of this inquiry was not to re-open the policy debates that occurred during the passing of the Bill. The broad aim was instead to understand if the Act and its implementation had effectively and efficiently achieved the stated objectives, costings and intended impact.


Evidence session

Date, Agenda and Minutes



1.    Estyn and Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)

David Blaney, Chief Executive – HEFCW

Bethan Owen, Deputy Chief Executive – HEFCW

Meilyr Rowlands, HM Chief Inspector – Estyn

Jassa Scott, Strategic Director – Estyn

18 July 2019

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2.    Universities Wales

Professor Julie Lydon, Chair - Universities Wales

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Deputy Chair - Universities Wales

Ben Arnold, Policy Adviser - Universities Wales

18 July 2019

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3.    ColegauCymru

Maggie Griffiths, Assistant Principal - Grŵp Llandrillo Menai (Via Video Conference)

Emil Evans, Vice Principal - Cardiff and Vale College

Mike Williams, Assistant Principal - Coleg Sir Gâr / Coleg Ceredigion

18 July 2019

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4.   National Union of Students Wales (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU)

Margaret Phelan, UCU Wales Official

Dr Bethan Winter, Policy and Communications Officer – UCU wales

Rob Simkins, President - NUS Wales

Joni Alexander, Interim Director – NUS Wales

18 July 2019

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5.    Welsh Government

Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education

Huw Morris, Director of Skills, Higher Education and Lifelong Learning Group, Welsh Government

26 September 2019

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Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Higher Education (Wales) Act (PDF 2MB) – 4 December 2019

Welsh Government Response (PDF 631KB) – 16 January 2020

Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

Status: Complete

First published: 07/03/2019