Written Statement: Regulation of Higher Education providers in Wales – Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Act 2022 – Register of Tertiary Education providers – Initial Regulations

I am pleased to announce the publication today of a consultation on three sets of draft Regulations pursuant to the implementation the Tertiary Education and Research (Wales) Act 2022 (‘TERA’).

This consultation will remain open until 5 February 2024.

The Regulations on which we are consulting are:

  • The Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (Registration of Tertiary Education Providers in Wales) Regulations 2024
  • The Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (Designation of Providers) (Wales) Regulations 2024
  • The Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (Decision Review) (Wales) Regulations 2024

This consultation is the first of several steps towards the establishment of a register of providers of higher education in Wales, with these draft Regulations being the first tranche required to enable the registration system to be established and operate as intended. They build on the overarching framework of regulatory oversight provided for in TERA.

Once made, the Regulations will provide a foundation for the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (the Commission) to establish the register. The Regulations will enable the Commission to develop its expectations for the conditions of registration applicable to providers of higher education in Wales.

I have listened to the resounding messages from those most affected by these changes. I am determined to facilitate a smooth and effective transition from the existing arrangements to the new registration system, particularly in terms of the regulatory oversight and the wider impacts on student support and believe it to be imperative there is sufficient time allowed for this to happen. 

For this reason, although I would expect much of the Commission’s development of the new system, and its consultation with those affected, to start during 2024 and 2025, it is now my intention that the register be established for July 2026 and the associated regulatory arrangements fully implemented in academic year 2027/28.

The register will form a regulatory gateway for the automatic designation of higher education courses for Welsh Government student support, and TERA provides the Commission with a range of regulatory intervention functions to support the regulatory regime.

I believe these Regulations will give the Commission the operational freedom it needs, as an arms-length body, to develop its own expectations of providers to satisfy those regulatory requirements, and its distinct approach to monitoring and intervention.

Although it will be a matter for the Commission to set out its approach to these, I expect it to support providers to protect the interests of students, Welsh taxpayers, and the reputation of higher education in Wales.

Stakeholder events on the draft Regulations are planned over the coming months and I would encourage anyone with an interest in these reforms to engage with the opportunities I will make available to help them respond to this consultation. I am convinced that this continued collaboration is what will enable the success and sustainability of these reforms.

I look forward to hearing the views of stakeholders on these matters.