The organisation released its ‘Building Wales’ Future’ manifesto ahead of the country’s 2021 Senedd elections – setting out its key ambitions for Wales’ future. 

“The next Welsh government will face some of the most complex challenges of recent history”

The manifesto calls on parties to commit to measures around research funding, international activity, and supporting students with their mental health and well-being.

“The next Welsh government will face some of the most complex challenges of recent history, from adapting to increased global volatility and significant demographic changes, to tackling the increasingly pressing issue of climate change,” said Julie Lydon, chair of Universities Wales. 

“Our universities will respond to these challenges in the only way they know how: by adapting, working together, delivering skills to more people of all ages and backgrounds, and carrying out world-leading research and innovation,” she said. 

The manifesto notes that universities are responsible for around £500 million of export earnings in Wales: around 4% of all Welsh exports. 

“But the contribution universities make is wider than direct economic benefit. Through alumni, staff and student mobility, collaborative research, cultural and sporting activities our universities are contributing to Wales’ soft power,” the manifesto says. 

“Partnerships built by our universities through transnational education, research and commercial activities have established a significant footprint for Wales internationally, building on the international recognition of Wales as an innovative and forward thinking nation.”

In 2018 –19, nine of the country’s higher education providers reported 30,265 students on TNE programs.

Universities Wales is calling for the future government to make a commitment to “secure Wales’ global presence in a highly volatile and new international landscape by investing in university networks and programs”. 

The organisation is asking parties to set a target to increase university exports by 75% to £950 million by 2030. 

“Welsh universities are uniquely placed to support the delivery of an ambitious vision for Wales, and by working with the next Senedd and Welsh government, universities can be at the centre of a national recovery, helping to deliver upon Wales’ ambitions and promise,” said Lydon.

“Despite the uncertainty on the horizon, we are building collaborative, dynamic and resilient universities with a diverse population of students and staff.” 

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