University of Wales

University of Wales
Welsh: Prifysgol Cymru
Motto Goreu Awen Gwirionedd
(The Best Inspiration is Truth)
Type Confederal, non-membership university[1]
Active 1893–2011
Chancellor Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales
Vice-Chancellor Medwin Hughes
Pro-Chancellor The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Barry Morgan
Location Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Lampeter, Newport, Swansea and Wrexham, Wales, UK
Campus Urban and rural and distance learning
Affiliations Alliance of Non-Aligned Universities
Association of Commonwealth Universities

The University of Wales (Welsh: Prifysgol Cymru) was a confederal university based in Cardiff, Wales, UK. Founded by Royal Charter in 1893 as a federal university with three constituent colleges – Aberystwyth, Bangor and Cardiff – the university was the first and oldest university in Wales, one of the four countries in the United Kingdom. The university was the second largest university in the UK.

A federal university similar to the University of London, the University of Wales, UK was in charge of examining students, while its colleges were in charge of teaching. Historically, the University of Wales was the only university in Wales until 1992. In recent years, it announced its intention to merge with the University of Wales, Lampeter, Trinity University College and Swansea Metropolitan University.

Former colleges under the University of Wales included most universities in Wales: Aberystwyth University (formerly University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Bangor University (formerly University of Wales, Bangor), Cardiff University (formerly University of Wales, Cardiff), Swansea University (formerly University of Wales, Swansea), Cardiff Metropolitan University (formerly University of Wales Institute, Cardiff) and University of Wales, Newport (which merged with Glamorgan University in April 2013 to form the University of South Wales).

In 2007, the University of Wales changed from a federal structure to a confederal one and many of the constituent colleges became independent universities. As a result of a number of controversies in the late 2000s involving overseas affiliates and student visas, the university was abolished in 2011. This process is projected to be completed in 2017.


The University of Wales was founded in Wales in 1893 as a federal university with three foundation colleges: University College Wales (now Aberystwyth University), which had been founded in 1872 and University College North Wales (now Bangor University) and University College South Wales and Monmouthshire (now Cardiff University) which were founded following the Aberdare Report in 1881. Prior to the foundation of the federal university, these three colleges had prepared students for the examinations of the University of London. A fourth college, Swansea (now Swansea University), was added in 1920 and in 1931 the Welsh National School of Medicine was incorporated. In 1967 the Welsh College of Advanced Technology entered the federal university as the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST), also in Cardiff. In 1971 St David's College (now part of the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David), Wales' oldest degree-awarding institution, suspended its own degree-awarding powers and entered the University of Wales. A financial crisis in the late eighties caused UWIST and University College Cardiff to merge in 1988, forming the University of Wales College of Cardiff (UWCC). In 1992 the university lost its position as the only university in Wales when the Polytechnic of Wales became the University of Glamorgan (now part of the new University of South Wales).

The university was composed of colleges until 1996, when the university was reorganised with a two-tier structure of member institutions in order to absorb the Cardiff Institute of Higher Education (which became the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC), now known as Cardiff Metropolitan University) and the Gwent College of Higher Education (which became University of Wales College, Newport (UWCN)). The existing colleges became constituent institutions and the two new member institutions became university colleges. In 2003, both of these colleges became full constituent institutions and in 2004 UWCN received permission from the Privy Council to change its name to the University of Wales, Newport.

Cardiff University and the University of Wales College of Medicine (UWCM) merged on 1 August 2004. The merged institution, known as Cardiff University, ceased to be a constituent institution and joined a new category of 'Affiliated/Linked Institutions'. While the new institution continued to award University of Wales degrees in medicine and related subjects, students joining Cardiff from 2005 to study other subjects were awarded Cardiff University degrees.

At the same time, the university admitted four new institutions. Thus, North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI), Swansea Institute of Higher Education and Trinity College, Carmarthen (who were all previously Associated Institutions) along with the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (which was previously a Validated Institution) were admitted as full members of the university on 27 July 2004.

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama subsequently left the university in January 2007. More changes followed in September 2007 when the university changed from a federal structure to a confederation of independent institutions, allowing those individual institutions which had gained the status of universities in their own right to use the title of university – these institutions are Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Glyndŵr University (formerly the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI)), Swansea Metropolitan University and Swansea University.

In November 2008, Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea Universities decided to exercise their right to register students to study for their own awarded degrees.

In 2010 the University broke its links with a Malaysian college after it was discovered its director had bogus qualifications, while a Thai institution linked to the University was found to be operating illegally. In June 2011, a report from the Quality Assurance Agency found that the University had not run the necessary checks on institutes delivering courses it validated, and instructed it to review all of its validation arrangements.[2] In October, the University announced that it would cease validating courses, just before news broke that one of its affiliated colleges in London was involved in a visa fraud.[3][4][5] This led to calls from the vice chancellors of the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan and Swansea for the University of Wales to be wound up.[6]

It was announced later in October that the University of Wales would be "effectively abolished", and merged into the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.[7][8][9][10][11] which itself merged with Swansea Metropolitan University[12] on 1 August 2013. At present, the University of Wales is still functioning in its own right; it is expected that the merger process will be completed by 2017.[13]

Central services

The administrative office of the University of Wales is located in Cardiff's Civic Centre. In addition to its work with the accredited institutions in Wales, the university also validates schemes of study at some 130 centres in the UK and across the world, though it is currently in the process of bringing this current validation model to a close. It runs a highly rated research centre, the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (incorporating the Welsh Dictionary Unit), which is adjacent to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.[14] The first edition of Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (The University of Wales Dictionary), which has the same status for Welsh as the OED does for English, was completed in 2002, eighty-two years after it had been started. The University of Wales Press[15] was founded in 1922 and publishes around seventy books a year in both English and Welsh. The university also has a study and conference centre at Gregynog, near Newtown.[16]

Former accredited institutions

College Established Undergraduate students Postgraduate students Location Vice-Chancellor
Aberystwyth University 1872 8,450 2,570 Aberystwyth April McMahon
Bangor University 1884 9,500 Bangor John G. Hughes
Glyndŵr University 2008 7,695 Wrexham Michael Scott
University of Wales, Newport 1841[17] 7,525 1,850 Newport Peter Noyes
Cardiff University 1883 21,800 Cardiff Colin Riordan[18]
Swansea University 1920 Swansea Richard B Davies
University of Wales, Trinity Saint David 2010 Lampeter and Carmarthen Medwin Hughes
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) 1996 Cardiff

In September 2007, three universities applied for a change to their Royal Charters to give them the power to award their own degrees, instead of University of Wales degrees. Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, and Swansea University now all award their own degrees.[19][20]

The University of Wales: Trinity Saint David already has its own degree awarding powers, inherited from Saint David's College, Lampeter, which were put into abeyance when Lampeter joined the University of Wales in 1971. From then on, Lampeter awarded Wales degrees, but its own licences and diplomas. When the merger between the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, Swansea Metropolitan and The University of Wales is complete, the new unified institution will award degrees under the historic 1828 Royal Charter of Saint David's College.

Former affiliated institutions

Cardiff was once a full member of the university but has now left (though it retained some ties) having previously merged with the University of Wales College of Medicine (which was also a former member). Cardiff has awarded its own degrees to students admitted since 2005, except in Medicine and related subjects which continued to be awarded University of Wales degrees until 2011.

Former validated institutions

A number of institutions were not accredited by the university, but had some of their courses validated by it.[21] There was some publicity and questioning of the quality of these external courses,[22][23][24][25] and in October 2011, in response to changes in Higher Education in Wales, including the University's merger, the University announced that it would launch a new academic strategy which would see the institution only award degrees to students on courses designed and fully controlled by the University. All existing students at validated institutions are able to continue the remainder of their studies for a University of Wales award and will have continuous support.[26][27][28]

Former members

See also


  1. "Registrar's Office". Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  2. "Leighton Andrews: University of Wales 'let Wales down'". BBC News. 22 June 2011.
  3. "University of Wales to stop validating other degrees". BBC News. 3 October 2011.
  4. "University of Wales degree and visa scam exposed by BBC". BBC News. 5 October 2011.
  5. Julie Henry (22 October 2011). "University of Wales abolished after visa scandal". Daily Telegraph.
  6. "Bogus degree scandal prompts calls to wind up University of Wales". Wales Online. 6 October 2011.
  7. University of Wales effectively abolished in merger - BBC News, 21 October 2011
  8. "University of Wales to stop validating other degrees - BBC News". Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  9. Jenkins, Ciaran. "University of Wales degree and visa scam exposed by BBC - BBC News". Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  10. "Scrap University of Wales call by vice-chancellors - BBC News". Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  11. "Warning not to strip University of Wales assets". BBC News. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  12. "Uni merger goes ahead after Met is dissolved". South Wales Evening Post.
  13. "Adduned Cymru – The Wales Pledge" (PDF). University of Wales. p. 5. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  14. Wales Online (7 June 2012). "University View: Andrew Hawke, managing editor of Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, the University of Wales Dictionary of the Welsh Language".
  15. "UW Press Website".
  16. Abele Adamu Bouba (2011-10-21). "A sense of history and a new beginning". Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  17. "History of the University".
  18. "Cardiff University: Prof Colin Riordan is new vice-chancellor". 1 September 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  19. Swansea University – What's Happening Archived 28 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. "Second uni to award own degrees –". BBC News. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  21. "Institution Search – University of Wales". Retrieved 2012-04-29.
  22. "Another worthless validation: the University of Wales and nutritional therapy".
  23. "BBC TV Wales, part 1". Youtube.
  24. "BBC TV Wales, part 2". Youtube.
  25. "Scandal of the University of Wales and the Quality Assurance Agency".
  26. "University of Wales to stop validating other degrees". BBC News. 3 October 2011.
  27. Times Higher Education (4 October 2011). "University of Wales pulls in its tentacles".
  28. UW Website (6 October 2011). "University of Wales announces new academic strategy".


Official histories of the University

Media related to University of Wales at Wikimedia Commons

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