Developments Leading to Y Coleg Cymraeg
In 2001, HEFCW began - with universities - to provide support for a small Welsh Medium Provision Development Unit to work with the higher education sector on strengthening Welsh medium provision.
In 2003, HEFCW set up a Welsh Medium Provision Steering Group to develop a strategy in the given the Welsh Government’s aspirations to increase the number of students studying thought the medium of Welsh. Membership was drawn from the higher education (HE) sector and other organisations with an interest in Welsh medium HE.
The Steering Group’s strategy was submitted to the Welsh Government in October 2004, and allocations from the HEFCW Reconfiguration and Collaboration Fund would be used to begin implementing the strategy. The Development Unit became the Centre for Welsh Medium Higher Education to provide support and co-ordination.
As part of the strategy, Arad Consulting Ltd carried out an independent study on behalf of the HE sector on potential models for the future delivery of Welsh medium provision. It proposed a network model, supported by a national strategic framework.
During 2006/07, HEFCW worked closely with the HE sector and its representative body, Higher Education Wales (HEW), to establish a new strategic framework and national development plan. The development plan covered all aspects which influence supply and demand, including developing new provision, increasing staff capacity through scholarship and fellowship schemes, staff development and marketing. A Welsh Medium Higher Education Sector Group, with representatives at senior level from all HE institutions, provided leadership. The centre for Welsh Medium Higher Education operated within a higher education sector-owned consortium, and its role was enhanced and re-defined so that its work was fully focused on supporting the development plan and the sector group.
In July 2008, the Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills announced the establishment of a Coleg Ffederal Planning Board, chaired by Professor Robin Williams and serviced by HEFCW. The concept of a Coleg Ffederal/Federal College to support Welsh medium higher education had been put forward by various groups for some time, although there had not been a clear consensus about what form it might take. Professor Williams submitted his report to the Welsh Government in June 2009. This recommended the establishment of the Coleg Ffederal as a new and independent legal entity, which would work with and through the higher education institutions in Wales and would incorporate the Centre for Welsh Medium Higher Education.
The recommendation was included within For our Future, the Welsh Government's strategy for higher education in November 2009. HEFCW established a Coleg Ffederal Implementation Board, Chaired by Geraint Talfan Davies, which met during 2010 to guide the detailed work required to set up the Coleg. Y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol was formally incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in March 2011.