Costs of Welsh medium provision at higher education institutions in Wales

Sector: Economics of Education | Education
Client: Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
Published: April, 2023
Document type:  

In April 2022, LE Wales were commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to undertake research on the cost of Welsh medium provision in Welsh higher education institutions (HEIs). The research aimed to determine whether there are additional costs associated with the delivery of Welsh medium higher education provision at HEFCW-funded institutions in Wales and, if so, what these costs are and how they differ to those for English medium provision. The aims to inform the current review of HE teaching funding methodologies. This research updates some elements of previous work undertaken for HEFCW by London Economics in 2006.

The data used in our analysis were based on a survey sent to the Welsh higher education institutions, and also to 3 Welsh FE colleges delivering validated HE qualifications. Our main analysis assessed the costs of HE modules per student per credit, distinguishing between English medium modules on the one hand and Welsh and bilingual modules on the other.

Our analysis of costs suggests that, overall, the additional costs per student per credit of WM provision have increased since our previous analysis in 2006 and that one of the main reasons for this is that an increase in the numbers of students on English medium modules has not been matched by a similar increase in the numbers of students on Welsh medium modules. The extent to which WM costs per student per credit are different to EM costs varies considerably by type of provision. Across all types of provision the median cost per student per credit of WM modules is £19, whereas the median cost of EM provision is £9. From our analysis of costs, we also conclude that the main factors that could be candidates for driving any other changes to the structure of WM premium funding are:

  • module size (student enrolments);
  • whether or not a module is being newly provided (as new or substantially revised modules typically incur higher costs due to the additional preparation time required);
  • whether or not the students enrolled on a module are mainly part-time students (this is reflected in the current approach used to apply the WM premium); and
  • whether the subject falls into the ‘STEM and Medicine’ subject area (which typically require a higher number of hours, e.g. due to laboratories or other activities).

By far the most important of these is the number of students enrolled on a module. In fact once we control for module enrolment size, there is little difference in costs between WM or bilingual modules and EM modules. “