Welsh tertiary education bill makes welfare arrangements mandatory

A government amendment will mean the new Welsh Commission for Tertiary Education and Research will need to consider welfare arrangements as part of registration

The Welsh government has amended its Welsh Tertiary Education and Research Bill, compelling higher education providers to promote welfare.

The amendment means that registered higher education providers must prove the effectiveness of their welfare policies for staff and students.

The amendment was made after a Senedd member, Laura Anne Jones, brought forward an amendment on mental health.

The Conservative MS’s amendment would have given the new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER) an “overarching” duty to support students’ mental health and wellbeing – and removed CTER’s ability to unilaterally change learner protection plans.

The Labour administration rejected the amendment but added a fifth category to the initial registration conditions set out for CTER. Alongside the quality of tertiary education, governance, financial sustainability and degree validation arrangements, CTER will require registrants to show “the effectiveness of… arrangements for supporting and promoting the welfare of its students and staff”.

Speaking in the Senedd, education minister Jeremy Miles ​said that students and staff should have “a happy education experience”.

“I want Wales to build a reputation within the UK and internationally for putting wellbeing at the centre of our education system,” he said. “Lack of support for mental health and wellbeing can be a critical barrier to success in education for many learners and students.”

The bill must now pass its fourth stage in the Senedd.

Read more: Welsh government publishes post-16 education and research bill

Related news: Welsh education providers call for joined-up post-16 mental health support

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