The National Assembly for Wales’ Cross-Party Group on Wales International held its inaugural meeting this week.
The Group’s purpose is to look at and promote Welsh links internationally, and the Secretariat is provided by British Council Wales. The first meeting was held jointly with the Cross Party Group for Higher Education (HE) to discuss the importance of international links to the HE sector here in Wales.
Speaking at its inaugural meeting, the Wales International Group’s Chair, Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, said:
“Our group registration highlights our intention to encourage our nation and the Assembly to be more outward facing (a challenge that is even more acute now in the face of the vote on EU membership); to seek ways of promoting Wales’ profile worldwide, fostering international links in trade, culture, social and political and to learn from governments, parliaments and civic society in other countries.
“These are challenging times, but that need to be international in our outlook is obvious, hopefully, for all of those who have shown an interest in the work of this new group.”
The focus of the first meeting was the importance of international links to Wales’ higher education sector.
Iwan Davies, Pro Vice Chancellor International of Swansea University and Chair of Global Wales spoke about internationalising Welsh Higher Education, before David Hibler, British Council Erasmus+ HE Pogramme Lead, spoke about international mobility. Both speakers agreed that it was crucial to develop international connections.
Speaking after the meeting, Iwan Davies said: "I’m delighted that the Wales International cross-party group has been established. Universities are outward-looking institutions; they form a core part of Wales’ international fabric and are proud of their global networks. Following the uncertainty surrounding our relationship with the European Union, it is more important than ever that Wales as a nation remains open for business and welcoming to international partners. I look forward to collaborating with this group to further this important work."
David Hibler added: “Erasmus+, the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport has given thousands of Welsh young people and university staff the chance to study and work abroad. The benefits of international experiences are well documented, for example Erasmus students are more likely to excel at their studies and gain a first or 2:1 degree. The skills gained from an international experience, such as networking, being able to work in multicultural teams, improved language skills and confidence, all lead to improved employment prospects. In the light of Brexit we need the Erasmus+ programme more than ever and we hope the Welsh Government will back its continuation and expansion.”