There was a story about a month ago claiming that there was a possible loophole in the Welsh Government’s policy on paying tuition fees. The nub of the issue was that different lawyers appeared to be giving different advice (as lawyers are wont to do) about the law in this area, with some claiming that the Welsh Government could find itself open to paying fees for all EU students studying in the UK.
I still suspect, as I noted at the time, that this is one of those situations where only a test case will prove who is right and who is wrong; but I couldn’t see how anyone’s interest would be served by bringing such a test case.
I still don’t see whose interest would be served, but it looks as though we may be moving to a position where a test case becomes a possibility. According to the Western Mail this morning, a “think-tank” which I’d never heard of before has decided to actively encourage EU students in England to apply to the Welsh Government for funding.
The “think-tank” concerned has a single-page web presence here, which actually tells us very little about them. The banner at the top, showing a combination of the union flag and the stars and stripes makes me wonder what the nature of the US connection is, but there is little hard information to be had. The Western Mail tells us that their spokesman is England-based – do they have any connection with Wales at all?
The key question, surely, is what the motivation is behind this intervention in Welsh politics. It’s a question which the Western Mail seems not to have even asked.
Their web page says that they want to expose the “stupidity and inequity” of the policy being pursued by “the Welsh Assembly” (sic – do they not understand the difference between the Assembly and the Government, and what does that say about their knowledge?). But who would pay for them to do this, and if they’re not being paid for it, why would they divert time and effort into something which is more political campaign than policy research and development?
It’s an odd thing for a “think-tank” to do; and the report in the paper raised more questions than answers in my mind.
I wasn’t particularly surprised at the Tories jumping on the bandwagon to criticise the policy yet again, although I still don’t understand why they think such a stance holds any political advantage for them. Supporting an organisation based elsewhere in an attempt to undermine a popular policy doesn’t look like good politics to me.