University alliance to deliver economic and social benefits to Wales

University of South Wales, Treforest Campus

The Governing Body of the University of South Wales (USW) and the Council of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have agreed to a strategic alliance which will see both universities working closer together.

The move signals a significant strategic development for the higher education sector landscape in Wales and enables the two largest Post-92 universities to collaborate in order to respond to the economic and societal challenges facing Wales, particularly within a post-Covid context.

In agreeing a Deed of Association, both institutions commit to working together on a national mission to strengthen Wales’ innovation capacity, supporting economic regeneration and the renewal of its communities.  

The Deed of Association acknowledges each institution’s autonomy and distinctiveness as strong historic brands which will remain independent, but also marks the collective values of both institutions and their potential to deliver tangible benefits and impact for Wales though collaboration. In particular, working together to drive digital innovation, knowledge transfer, research innovation, workforce development and to provide a ready pipeline of skilled students and graduates, in partnership with employers within priority sectors.

Louise Evans, Chair of the Board of Governors at USW said: “Our aim is to generate innovative solutions to tackle grand challenges. We have a key role to work with the Welsh Government to build capacity and resilience within our communities. Exploiting our joint innovation, applied research and supporting the development of higher-level skills across a range of priority sector areas and linked to employers is key to our collaboration. 

“The recent Covid-19 engagement has reinforced the need to critically reflect upon the need for all institutions to consider flexible arrangements of association so that universities can make a significant contribution to the national recovery engagement. The need for strong and effective universities that are able to address economic, social and enterprise needs is imperative.”

The Venerable Randolph Thomas, UWTSD’s Chair of Council added: “This alliance will enable us to make a real difference, particularly in Wales’ recovery post-Covid, and to assist in developing a sustainable future for the communities we serve, to renew our learning communities and to develop their wellbeing and resilience.”

The Deed of Association will build capacity and subject excellence, creating a strong resource base for development and inward investment. It will enable the universities to develop a more diverse entrepreneurial knowledge-based economy; building further on their track record for graduate start-ups. 

It will also facilitate the development of a strong base for applied innovation and enterprise as well as a range of educational programmes and lifelong learning opportunities to further social capital and new innovative economic, environmental, cultural and social activity.  Working with a range of stakeholders within key sectors across Wales it will address inequalities through widening access and promoting social inclusion and justice.

Professor Julie Lydon, OBE, Vice-Chancellor of USW said: “Both USW and UWTSD are significant players within higher education provision in Wales. Both represent a strong voice for the Post-92 sector and define a very clear agenda for economic and social change in Wales. The opportunity of crafting a new direction of travel which addresses the planning and delivery of education and skills development across further, higher and employment-based education through Wales will have a significant impact and will deliver key outcomes which will support economic and civic regeneration.”

 Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor of UWTSD added: “Wales needs to be innovative in its educational system and delivery frameworks in order to establish inter and intra-regional groupings which will enhance economic delivery, support social capital and drive forward greater regional Post-16 educational pathways. In doing so, we will secure greater synergy in our skills delivery and establish far stronger strategic partnerships with government and employers.”