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Transforming education in the Heads of the Valleys
The funding is set aside to go toward three major projects – UHOVI, a partnership between the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, the Merthyr Tydfil Learning Quarter and the Blaenau Gwent Learning Works. This represents a real commitment to the region, designed to provide new learning and skills opportunities, better local facilities and to attract new jobs to the Valleys.
UHOVI is working with Blaenau Gwent Council and Merthyr Tydfil Council. Together they are working with the Further Education sector, including Merthyr Tydfil College, Coleg Gwent, secondary schools and training companies to provide education opportunities at all levels across the region. With increased local access to learning and a greater choice of courses, more local people would be able to study right up to degree and postgraduate levels locally – and meet local business needs for skilled staff.
For the people of Merthyr Tydfil the proposals include a brand new Merthyr Tydfil Tertiary College with bigger and better facilities for full and part-time learners, and a new University building as part of the creation of a new Learning Quarter in the heart of the town. Discussions are also underway regarding the development of other facilities for the town that will complement this.
For local people in Blaenau Gwent, the £112 million Learning Works initiative is planned to provide a new state-of-the-art Learning Zone for all 16 plus education that would include a range of university courses. The plans also include new primary and secondary school provision, a replacement special school, a children family centre as well as a new sports centre and new performing arts centre.
UHOVI will provide new Glamorgan and Newport University courses in community venues, in the workplace and at colleges from 2010.
Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Councils have begun major consultation exercises across the County Boroughs which will conclude late Summer 2010. This means that local people have the chance to comment on these major plans and play an exciting part in reshaping education in the Heads of the Valleys area. Alongside other schemes, these education plans are expected to bring the economic benefits of regeneration into the region, including opportunities of attracting new jobs to the area.
Councillor Jeff Edwards, Leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Councillor Des Hillman, Leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, issued a joint statement:
“The economic potential of the region, its fantastic assets in terms of natural environment and its improving transport infrastructure are widely recognised. We have a great chance to invest now in new opportunities for our young people. The Heads of the Valleys Education vision is all about working in partnership to create a better future for our younger generation.”
Julie Lydon, UHOVI Project Leader, speaking on behalf of both universities and the colleges involved, said:
“Learning has an enormous role to play in the regeneration strategy in the Heads of the Valleys. This is about connecting and organising learning in a whole new way. We intend to show the difference that universities and colleges can make to services, investment and the economy, when they work together with others in the region.”
Related LinksReaching Higher is the Welsh Assembly Government’s strategy for a competitive, robust and sustainable higher education sector in Wales.