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Minister backs partnership to build stronger links between education and community

Welsh Government Education Minister Jeremy Miles has backed a new partnership which will help to strengthen the relationship between education providers and the community.

Mr Miles spoke in support of the newly-formed South Wales Civic Engagement Partnership (SWCEP) – which is a partnership between the five universities and five colleges operating within Cardiff Capital Region – during its launch at the University of South Wales (USW) in Treforest.

With the common goal of a shared Civic Mission Agenda, the strategic partnership will enhance links between the Higher Education and Further Education sectors, while delivering a more collaborative approach to civic engagement in the region – an approach that will respond to identified local and regional needs.

The institutions in the partnership are USW, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, the Open University, Cardiff & Vale College, The College Merthyr Tudfil, Bridgend College, Coleg Gwent, and Coleg y Cymoedd.

To solidify this shared commitment to Civic Mission in the region, during the launch at USW a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by representatives of each SWCEP partner.

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, said: “Our colleges and universities have a critical role to play in supporting pathways out of poverty, working in partnership with people and communities, and offering a chance for individuals from diverse backgrounds to come together. I have been pleased to hear about the conversations the institutions have been having with community organisations about how they can help address inequalities in the region by working with them.

“The Commission for Tertiary Education and Research will drive a more strategic approach to civic engagement across all parts of post-16 education and training, encouraging institutions to reach beyond the campus and help promote the economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being of the communities they serve. This agreement between institutions provides a real opportunity to move this work forward in a very positive way.”

SWCEP chair Dr Louise Bright, who is also Pro Vice Chancellor for Enterprise, Engagement and Partnerships at USW, said the initial stage of the collaboration will focus on listening to community groups which are deeply embedded in helping people in the region.

“By hearing what the community organisations have to say, the colleges and universities in the Cardiff Capital Region can work with them to help address inequalities in the area,” Dr Bright said.

“All of the educational bodies have shown their commitment to working in partnership to improve the economic, social, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of the country as set out in the Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, and this partnership will help them strengthen that pledge.

“We look forward to building stronger relationships with community partners as the SWCEP develops.”

Jacob Ellis, Lead Change Maker for Public Affairs and International Relations at the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, said: “The development of the South Wales Civic Engagement Partnership demonstrates recognition of the importance of the Higher Education and Further Education sectors working together to meet the challenges of the communities in the Cardiff Capital Region.

“Working in collaboration, through the lens of the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the partnership would be in a crucial and strategic place to listen to communities and rise to key challenges.”