Posted: Thu 18th Apr 2024

Number of Welsh 18-year-olds enrolling at Wrexham University “down 5 per cent this year” for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

Concerns have been raised in the Senedd over the decrease in Welsh student enrolment at Wrexham University.

Vale of Clwyd representative Gareth Davies MS asked on Tuesday, “I would like to call for a statement from the new Cabinet Secretary for Education on the decrease in 18-year-olds enrolling in Welsh universities. I had the pleasure of visiting Wrexham University during recess and meeting with the vice-chancellor, Maria Hinfelaar, who informed me that enrolment of international students is increasing, which is great, but the number of Welsh 18-year-olds enrolling at Wrexham University is down 5 per cent this year.

“There was also a dip across Wales between 2021 and 2022, with the percentage of Welsh 18-year-olds that were accepted for a place at university in Wales also dipping from 33.7 per cent to 32.4 per cent.”

He added, “Obviously, this is concerning for North Wales, as international students are more likely to leave after gaining their qualifications, and we need to retain these skills in north Wales. Wrexham University is a huge asset for my constituency, as their excellent medical training facilities are a magnet for training regional talent, which will ease staffing pressure on emergency services and the Glan Clwyd Hospital.

“I’m aware that the Welsh Government has schemes to retain students in north Wales after graduation, but what is the Cabinet Secretary doing to ensure that there are incentives available for young people to choose a university in Wales when they are considering their options after A-levels?”

Jane Hutt MS, who is the new Trefnydd, replied, “It is really important that we value, as you have done today, our universities in Wales, and Wrexham University in particular, in terms of your constituency—huge assets, as are all our higher education institutions across Wales. Of course, the Cabinet Secretary for Education, now, will very shortly be meeting with our universities, not only in terms of all of the vice-chancellors, Universities Wales, but recognising that this has been an issue that’s come forward in recent days and weeks as a challenge. And there are many reasons for those challenges, and some of those are a responsibility for the UK Government.

“I would say that, in terms of the recognition of our universities, and the role that they play, not only in terms of education and lifelong learning, but also in terms of their economy, their local communities and progression for education, they are hugely valued, and, of course, supported by our very generous student support system as well. So, I’m sure the Cabinet Secretary will be following up those points you’ve made.”

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