Rob had a very productive discussion with the Vice-Chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University, Maria Hinfelaar this afternoon. Obviously, a large number of Delyn constituents use Glyndwr for their Higher and Further Educational needs, as well as various local companies using their services for their CPD accreditations, part-time and vocational qualifications.
Our office has had a number of queries from students who are in colleges and universities all across the country with regard to accommodation and payments. It was confirmed that Wrexham Glyndwr are waiving all rents on their student accommodation if the students have returned home. Some have chosen to stay, and Maria confirmed that this process is being replicated between all of the universities across Wales so that students weren’t disadvantaged financially in this challenging time.
Academic issues were also high on the agenda. Maria confirmed that all teaching staff were still working extremely hard to deliver their course content via various technology and other means and the feedback from students has been very positive. The provision of end-of-year results is obviously something that is causing a lot of anxiety for many students, but there is a general principle of “no detriment” in place so the university is working hard to ensure that nobody is disadvantaged as a result of the issues surrounding COVID-19.
There has been a significant hit on their funding with the waiving of the accommodation fees, but also because a large amount of revenue is derived from those part-time and CPD courses that companies are not currently booking. Fortunately, through sound fiscal management the university had expected to run a surplus this year, which will help them to lessen the impact of these issues. They are confident that they have taken all possible steps to safeguard both the standard of teaching and the welfare of students and have made it clear that they will be able to come out the other side of this slightly bruised but without any broken bones.
They are also working alongside the local NHS and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and looking at things like 3D printing of PPE equipment, which is obviously massively helpful at this point as well as putting online learning modules in place for those 6th form students who may be due to join them in September in order to keep them involved and immersed in educational activities while this “lockdown” period is in place.
Rob will be taking back a range of issues raised by Maria to the government to try to get resolutions that will assist, particularly with short- to medium-term cashflow, but otherwise both sides were left feeling that they were coping with the crisis well and that the government is providing the appropriate level of support for this excellent university who are in turn doing a fantastic job not only for their students but also for the wider North Wales community.
After the call, Rob Roberts MP (Delyn) said:
I'm delighted to hear of the excellent work being done by the university to support its students and the wider community. I hope that further education establishments throughout the whole of the UK follow the example of this excellent regional institution.