Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams visited Swansea University’s Singleton Park Campus this week (Thursday, February 2).
The visit focused on the University’s medical education programmes delivered by the Medical School and its highly successful partnerships which are addressing local community and Welsh NHS needs. Discussions were also held on the education needs of teachers, which are being addressed through the pioneering new Swansea University School of Education (SUSE).
Swansea University is very much a University concerned with promoting opportunities for entering a wide range of professions in Wales, including Education. It is developing a broad partnership, which includes schools, education consortia, local authorities, and the Open University, in order to address the professional development needs of teaching in Wales.
The Education Secretary met with senior figures from the University, its Medical School, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board, Medical students, and SUSE, during a visit centred around the Institute of Life Science 2 (ILS2) building.
Swansea University’s Medical School was established in 2004, when it welcomed its first students onto the Graduate Entry Medicine programme. Since 2004, the School has grown significantly and is now also home to a range of genetics and biochemistry programmes, as well as host of other taught and research degrees made possible by the ever-growing, world-class facilities and centres of excellence the School hosts.
The Medical School’s research and innovation arm, the ILS, Wales’ premier purpose-built medical research facility, is collaboration between Swansea University and the Welsh Government, together with Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board, IBM and industry and business partners.
The £52 million phase one of the ILS opened in 2007 and the £28.8 million phase two opened in 2011. It is the single largest investment ever made by the Welsh Government on any university campus.
The ILS2, which opens directly onto ABMU’s Singleton Hospital site, helping the University to maintain very strong links with the NHS, includes clinical research facilities and plays a major role in developing new products and services for the healthcare industry.
It is also home to the £21.6m Centre for NanoHealth, a unique collaboration between the University’s College of Engineering and the Medical School.
The Data Science building, an addition to ILS1 and ILS2, opened in summer 2015 and houses the £9.3 million Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research and the £8 million Administrative Data Research Centre Wales (ADRC Wales), enabling researchers, NHS staff, and industry to work together on cutting edge data science, whilst protecting privacy.
The Education Secretary met with Professor Richard B Davies, Vice-Chancellor, and Professor Iwan Davies, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Estate and Internationalisation), for a discussion on Swansea’s medical education programmes, including the Graduate Entry Medicine Programme, which provide the optimum learning and teaching environment to train the future doctors and life scientists Wales needs to address the major healthcare challenges society faces globally.
Swansea’s Medical School was one of the top performers in the UK for its research environment in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, ranking joint first in the UK for its research environment, and second out of 94 in the UK within its unit of assessment. And the Education Secretary learned how a remarkable 95% of the School’s research overall was recognised as internationally excellent or world-leading (three and four star), with 54% of its research rated as four star.
The Education Secretary met with Professor Keith Lloyd, Dean and Head of Swansea University Medical School and Professor Hamish Laing, Medical Director of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board, to discuss the close working relationship between ABMU and the University and the medical and health professional talent flow which is helping to address the needs of the Welsh NHS and the local community.
The Education Secretary also met Year Three and Year Four Graduate Entry Medicine students, before touring the ILS2 led by Professor Marc Clement, Dean of the School of Management, and Vice-President, with a specific role of developing major strategic projects, to discuss A Regional Collaboration for Health (ARCH) initiative, the proposed Swansea Bay City Deal bid, which Professor Clement has been instrumental in, and the University’s wide-ranging joint working and partnerships with Wales’ health boards.
Discussion with internationally-renowned education expert Professor David Reynolds, who leads Swansea University School of Education (SUSE), focused on the new three-year undergraduate BA (Hons) Education programme launched in September 2016, and the potential for SUSE to offer Initial Teacher Education (ITE).
Designed for UK, EU, and international students, the BA (Hons) Education programme considers education in a wide context, not just within formal primary and secondary school settings, but also Further and Higher Education, social services, local and national government, and education within the community.
Further joint honours programmes are now offered for 2017 in BSc (Hons) Education and Computing; BSc (Hons) Education and Mathematics; BSc (Hons) Education and Psychology; and BA (Hons) Education and Welsh.
Following the visit, Professor Richard B Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, said: “We were pleased to formally welcome the Education Secretary to our Singleton Park Campus, following the opportunity to showcase our new Bay Campus last July.
“Swansea’s Medical School and the ILS are remarkable good news stories for the city and Wales; they are providing highly skilled, highly employable graduates and vital, leading-edge research into areas such as cancer, obesity, and diabetes, and with medical research supporting the economy by supporting businesses, creating jobs, and leading to improved medical care.
“This visit enabled us to demonstrate how our Medical School colleagues, working closely with Wales’ health boards – and particularly ABMU Health Board with whom we have a special, strategic partnership with – results in a mutually beneficial partnership of knowledge exchange and partnership, bringing clear benefits to the region and to Wales in medical research and healthcare.
“We were also pleased to discuss our newly-launched and innovative Swansea University School of Education (SUSE) with the Education Secretary.
“We highlighted how our new undergraduate Education programmes, taught by innovative experts who have strong national and international links, with employability and career planning embedded in the curriculum, and with a strong emphasis on partnership with organisations such as schools, local authorities, business, and charities, will develop students’ knowledge and skills to become research-effective educationalists.
“There was also discussion of the potential for SUSE to offer Initial Teacher Education, in partnership with schools, education consortia, and the Open University.”
Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said: “It is always a pleasure to visit Swansea University to see the varied and interesting work underway here.
“Swansea University is a success that the city can be proud of, attracting students and staff from around the world and all of us want this to continue.”
- Thursday 2 February 2017 12.40 GMT
- Friday 3 February 2017 12.41 GMT
- Emma Turner