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University of South Wales Caerleon campus to close

The Caerleon campus at the University of South Wales is to close, with 145 jobs at risk.

The university says it aims to make no compulsory redundancies but that staff based at the campus could be affected when it closes next year.

The campus includes the 100-year-old former Monmouthshire Training College.

The Board unanimously decided that retaining two campuses is no longer viable and that USW’s future in Newport will be concentrated at the Newport City Campus. The City Campus is newer, less expensive to run, and enables the University to compete more effectively for students with the modern facilities being built by other universities.

– University of Wales statement

In a statement, the university confirmed it will not recruit new students at Caerleon after this year - and that current students will not be affected for at least a year.

The University of South Wales is Wales' biggest higher education institution, with more than 30,000 students, formed by the merger of the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport in April 2013.

Student 'hardship' fund reinstated for 2014-15

A £2m student 'hardship' fund has been reinstated for this academic year by the Welsh Government, after plans to scrap it proved highly controversial.

The Financial Contingency Fund aims to help students who can't access higher education due to financial difficulties, or experience financial problems while at university.

We have listened to stakeholders, and we have decided to reinstate the Fund for this year only.

I think it is appropriate that from academic year 2015-16 universities should establish their own discretionary hardship funds, and we will be discussing options with students and institutions.

– Huw Lewis, Education Minister
The 'hardship' fund will be reinstated for one year only. Credit: PA

The National Union of Students Wales has been campaigning to save the fund, after it was announced it would be withdrawn last month.

It today welcomed the Welsh Government's decision to protect the fund, which it says provides students in need with support averaging £400.

This hardship fund has been a vital lifeline of support for students, and the decision to scrap it just weeks before the start of the academic term risked leaving many in dire financial straits.

The strength of feeling since last month’s announcement, particularly from those who could not have stayed the course without it, shows why hardship funds are vital and must be protected, not just next year, but in the long term too if we are to have a fair and sustainable higher education system in Wales.

– Beth Button, NUS Wales President


Absenteeism 'down'

More children than ever have no absences at all. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire

Absenteeism from Welsh schools across Wales has fallen again according to new statistics, continuing a trend which began in 2005.

Persistant absence is now at 5 percent. That is half of what it was six years ago.

Third of students 'seriously consider' leaving course

NUS Wales's 'Pound in Your Pocket' report found:

  • one third of all students have seriously considered leaving their course due to financial difficulties
  • over half of student regularly worry about meeting basic living expenses
  • 70 per cent of further education students are worried about future debt levels
  • students from low participation neighbourhoods are more likely to be carrying debt of more than £5,000.

The Welsh Government says that the 'continuing squeeze' on budgets by the UK government has meant ministers have had to take 'difficult decisions' on the budgets for higher education and further education budgets for the 2014/15 academic year.

We fully recognise that the delayed announcement of the cuts to the Financial Contingency Fund (FCF) may cause difficulties for the higher education sector but we're pleased to be able to continue to support further education sector.

Higher education institutions' income has increased substantially through the increased fees charged to home students and recruitment of more international students.

– Welsh Government spokesperson
Many students have considered leaving their course due to financial pressures. Credit: PA

Students struggling to balance cost of living and studies

Credit: Jan Woitas/DPA/Press Association

The cost of living is a 'major barrier' to students' ability to stay in education and concentrate on their studies, according to the National Union of Students Wales.

It says that living costs - not only tuition fees - are a barrier to education.

The 'Pound in your Pocket Wales' report, found that:

When we talk about the cost of education, we talk about tuition fees. But being a student is more than sitting in a classroom. No longer can Wales afford to ignore the impact that the cost of living has on students' ability to complete their studies. Our research shows this.

Student poverty is having huge effects on our nation. No student should have to choose between heating or eating.

– Beth Button, NUS Wales president


Pupils celebrate rise in A* to C grades at GCSE

Thousands of students across Wales got their GCSE results today, with some interesting results.

The number of pupils achieving the top grades of A*-C has risen by nearly one per cent from last year. The overall pass rate of A*-E fell in the same period.

One of the results being scrutinised was the new English Language qualification, which caused much controversy when the January exam gave unexpectedly low results.

Nicola Hendy reports.

Union praises pupils and teachers after difficult year

The National Union of Teachers has praised teachers for 'ensuring such high standards' despite changes to GCSEs this year.

NUT Wales policy officer Owen Hathway said the past year has not been 'the easiest' for teachers or pupils but they have still delivered the highest A*-C pass rate ever achieved in Wales.

Students, teachers and parents should all be rightly commended for these impressive results.

That the percentage of A*-A and A*-C grades have both gone up this year in comparison to 2013's results is fantastic news and is a testament to the hard work, often well above and beyond the remits of a teacher, that goes on in schools right across Wales.

– Owen Hathway, NUT Wales policy officer

Welsh Baccalaureate pass rates reach record high

Record numbers of pupils have received the intermediate diploma in the Welsh Baccalaureate.

11,784 pupils passed, more than 1,000 more than last year, as the pass rate also increased from 79 per cent to 85.7 per cent.

At foundation level, 1,757 pupils passed, a fall from last year, but the pass rate rose to 83.3 per cent.

The Welsh Baccalaureate has been rolled out across Wales in recent years. Credit: PA

The Welsh Bac. will play an increasing important role from September 2015, becoming the overarching framework for 14 to 19-year-olds' qualifications in Wales, under Welsh Government changes.

Education Minister: English results 'comparable' to 2013

The Welsh Government says today's GCSE English language results show pupils have "achieved comparable outcomes to those in summer 2013", which is "especially pleasing" following unexpectedly low marks in January units.

Education Minister Huw Lewis also said overall results "signal a historic high point", with 66.6 per cent of pupils receiving A* - C grades the highest proportion ever in Wales.

He said the Welsh Government would be looking careful at maths results, after a fall in the proportion of pupils getting A* or A grades from 12 per cent to 10.3 per cent - and a fall in the proportion getting A* - C grades from 52.8 per cent to 50.6 per cent.

I’d like to offer my congratulations to all students in Wales who are collecting their GCSE results today.

English Language outcomes are especially pleasing following the January unit outcomes. I said in March, when those outcomes were published, that it was important to see what the full qualification outcomes would bring.

Today’s qualification results show that, for GCSE English Language, learners in Wales, with the support of their teachers, have achieved comparable outcomes to those in summer 2013. Indeed for the stable cohort of learners – that is candidates aged 16, A*-C outcomes at 62.6% are higher, by 0.6 percentage points than they were in summer 2013.

We are looking carefully at the headline outcomes for Mathematics as changes in entry patterns have had a negative impact on summer outcomes. If we compare outcomes for 16 year-old candidates this summer with those from last summer it reveals that the results A*-C were only down by 0.2 percentage points for this group, which is the stable group for whom comparisons are realistic. We will have a better picture of overall performance when the full set of performance data is available in the autumn.

We are striving to improve and already have measures in place to raise our game in Mathematics, such as the Literacy and Numeracy Framework which will improve performance in years to come. We are also introducing new Maths GCSEs from September 2015 and their implementation will be supported by regional consortia, funded by Welsh Government, as well as by WJEC.

The highest standards of literacy and numeracy are essential for ensuring progress and achievement in education; for the economic health of the nation; and for supporting the general well-being of the population as a whole as well as individuals.

– Huw Lewis, Education Minister
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