In furtherance of their functions to provide further education the Welsh Ministers have certain powers to supervise and oversee the conduct of further education institutions in Wales.
Section 37 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 allows the Welsh Ministers to develop schemes for assessing the performance of institutions providing post-16 education and to take these assessments into account when determining the level of funding to provide under section 34.
Section 50 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (FHEA 1992) gives the Welsh Ministers a power to make regulations that would require the governing body of an institution within the further education sector to publish certain prescribed information. The Education (Further Education Institutions Information) (Wales) Regulations 1993 (SI 1993/2169) set out the information that governing bodies are required to publish. This includes detail about the examination results for GSCE and A Level students, the outcome of vocational qualifications and the destination of students following completion of these courses.
In addition, the Welsh Ministers can require local authorities and the governing bodies of institutions in the further education sector to provide them with such information as they may require under section 54 of FHEA 1992.
The Welsh Ministers may intervene in the conduct of a further education institution if they are satisfied that any one of the conditions listed in section 57(1) of FHEA 1992 is met. These conditions are that the Welsh Ministers are satisfied:
- that the institution's affairs have been or are being mismanaged by its governing body;
- that the institution's governing body has failed to discharge any duty imposed on it by or for the purposes of any Act or any Measure of the National Assembly for Wales;
- that the institution's governing body has acted or is proposing to act unreasonably with respect to the exercise of any power conferred or the performance of any duty imposed by or under any Act or any Measure of the National Assembly for Wales;
- that the institution is performing significantly less well than it might in all the circumstances reasonably be expected to perform, or is failing or likely to fail to give an acceptable standard of education or training.
The Welsh Ministers’ powers to intervene include a power to remove and replace members of the governing body of a further education institution. The Welsh Ministers may also give directions to the governing body as to the exercise of its powers and the performance of its duties. This does not include a power to direct a governing body to dismiss a member of staff but the Welsh Ministers may direct the governing body to carry out the relevant procedures relating to considering the dismissal of a senior member of staff.
Following an amendment to section 57 of FHEA 1992 by the Further and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Act 2014 the Welsh Ministers may now also direct an institution to make a resolution under section 27A(1) of FHEA 1992 for the body to be dissolved.
The governing body must comply with any direction given by the Welsh Ministers in these circumstances.