University of Wales – RIP

When I arrived at UCW Aberystwyth in 1967, there was a very clear message delivered to all freshers that Aber was the oldest (and only) University College of the UoW. That although you were part of UoW, that Aber was the founding college of the university. There was also a feeling of pride in the UoW that you were introduced to, a sense of history, and as a consequence graduates were encouraged to share in the feeling that this was a well established and respected institution that had credibility, and that if one (after a programme of study) graduated from it, that you felt that you had got a degree that meant something.

The news today makes me feel rather sick. I know my degree is of no less value today than the day it was awarded, but the announcements made today mark the end of the institution I felt I had an affinity with. I mean no disrespect to the inheritors of the label, but the UoW has ceased to exist. A sad day indeed. How was this allowed to happen?

Through the 90’s and 00’s I was very supportive of the enlargement of the university, the idea of a national university really seemed to me to be the embodiment of what in a nation of just 3 million people you ought to be trying to create to mirror the aspirations of a nation. The federal university seemed to be the best approach. However, it emerged slowly that this could never be. Politics, size, location, legacy and tradition meant it could never succeed. So my “home” institution, along with the other founding institutions decided to break away. A tragedy, but understandable, I accept.

However, even then, one still felt that UoW was an institution that had worth, had a mission that was worthwhile and that one could feel a shared pride in being associated with, by degree. Now … what do I feel? Should I approach Aber and request an honorary Aberystwyth University degree? I certainly don’t feel any affiliation with the proposed new “institution”. Has the value of my UoW degree been devalued?

Sad day for Wales. Sad day for Welsh HE. Sad day for me.