Regional aid post-Brexit – what next for Wales’ Further Education sector?

15 December 2017

ColegauCymru today welcomed the Welsh Government’s paper on “Regional Investment in Wales after Brexit: Securing Wales’ Future”. With the UK departure from the European Union scheduled to take place in March 2019, it is essential that a more detailed conversation on the replacement for Structural Funds takes place. The Welsh Government paper is a contribution to that conversation, setting out its priorities for the UK’s future outside of the EU. Making the case for continued regional investment is a key element of that.

Further Education colleges across Wales have benefitted greatly from European funding. A recent ColegauCymru research report on the involvement of Welsh Further Education colleges in EU funding found that over the past 10 years, further education colleges in Wales have been involved in the delivery of EU-funded projects to a total value of nearly £600M. This includes the contribution of ESF and ERDF funds as well as mobility programmes such as Erasmus+ that enable staff and learners to spend time learning from best practice in other European countries.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, Iestyn Davies, said “We are pleased to see the Welsh Government consulting on the way forward for regional investment after Brexit. Further Education colleges have a vital stake in this and we are keen to both shape this agenda and respond to the proposals. ColegauCymru recognises that the UK Government is also looking at the issue of how any replacement from EU Structural Funds should operate post-Brexit. In line with this, I am writing to Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, for clarification on how the planned UK ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ will address the specific challenges faced by Wales.

“Funding to continue to raise skills levels across Wales will be more important than ever post-Brexit. We are clear that Wales, and our most deprived communities, must not lose out in decisions about future regional investment.”