Plans by the UK Government to cap the number of English students studying in Wales could seriously hit the viability of Swansea's two universities, local Welsh Liberal Democrats have warned.
They are concerned that, when combined with an inevitable fall-off in overseas students coming to the UK to study due to coronavirus, both Swansea University and the University of Wales, Trinity St David will be left with a black hole in their budgets. The two colleges are major employers in the city.
Plans leaked last week indicated that the Conservative UK Government wants to limit the number of students from England going to colleges in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Welsh Liberal Democrats Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, has already objected directly to the UK government about these proposals.
The Welsh Lib Dem Swansea West candidate for the Senedd at next years elections, Chloe Hutchinson believes that the Tories need to think again:
"The silence of our local Conservative MS on this issue so far has been deafening," she said. "Roughly half the students at Welsh colleges are from the other side of Offa's Dyke. We need all our elected representatives speaking out against these plans if we are to protect jobs and the future of our educational institutions.'
Welsh Liberal Democrat Council Candidate for Castle Ward, Sam Bennett added: “Our Universities are the lifeblood of the city centre, which is significantly supported by the presence of a lively and thriving student population. Conservative plans could leave many cafes, pubs and clubs, already struggling with the effects of COVID-19, put under further pressure, and plunging many into the red. Conservative Council leaders in Swansea and across the region need to denounce these plans.”
Shelia Kingston-Jones, the Welsh Liberal Democrat's lead candidate for South Wales West, said "Students from all parts of the world and across the UK make a huge contribution to our universities. It is deplorable that our local Conservative MS has not stood up for this vital part of our communities and local Welsh economy"