University of Wales to close down after 120 years

Saturday, October 22, 2011

120 years after it was founded, the University of Wales (UoW) will shut down. Already comprised of several institutions, two will merge fully while two more will become independent universities.

With a charter from 1893 and the Prince of Wales as its chancellor, problems began at UoW last year after concerns the head of a Malaysian partner institution, a local pop artist, had non-legitimate qualifications. This was followed by Thailand's authorities denouncing another UoW partner as illegal, then an investigation in the UK into all the UoW's foreign ties.

The Quality Assurance Agency said UoW's overseas checks on foreign institutions were inadequate. The UK Border Agency is investigating a possible visa scam whereby foreign students were sold exam answers for a qualification leading to UoW entry and British visas. Two colleges — Rayat London College and Lampton College — are suspended over the claims.

Trinity St David and Swansea Metropolitan universities are to merge, forming University of Wales: Trinity St David. It is to use the latter's own royal charter, which is itself 190 years old. Newport and Glyndwr are set to become universities in their own right. The dissolution follows calls from the leaders of rival universities for the end of UoW.

"I warmly welcome the historic decision taken today by the University of Wales Council," said UoW Vice-Chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes, who will fill the same role for the new University of Wales: Trinity St David. "The transformed University will serve and deliver for Wales." His counterpart for Newport, Dr Peter Noyes, said "The inevitable end to the story of the University of Wales should not detract from a distinguished history lasting 12 decades. Wales should be sad that this day has come[.]" UoW chairmain Hugh Thomas has resigned.

The Prince of Wales is among past students, having spent a 1969 term there. The institution's various member organisations at one point included the now-separate Cardiff University.