Concerns have sparked as reports show that Welsh universities are accepting much lower A-level grades in comparison to the rest of the UK. The Higher Education Statistics Agency compiled a report for BBC Wales that demonstrated that while the average score needed for Welsh universities had been increasing, between 2011 and 2012 it has significantly worsened. And so, the gap between Wales and the rest of the UK is worryingly increasing and causing grave concern; figures show that there is a 27 point difference between the institutions in Wales and in the UK for the necessary grade points needed to be accepted into university. As the gap has widened, the UK has seen applications increase by 23.4% since 2008, in comparison to Welsh applications that have only gone up by 11.3% since 2008. Wales have defended these figures by arguing that extending access to higher education institutions allows young people from all backgrounds to be given the same opportunities.
Angela Burns who is the Conservative shadow education minister stated that: "These figures appear to show Wales falling further behind the rest of the UK in the A-level attainment of new students at Welsh universities. ["¦] Labour ministers must end their expensive student fees subsidy, which siphons off millions of pounds to English institutions, and reinvest savings in improving the teaching and research potential of Welsh universities."
Since the Welsh government covers the majority of the tuition fees for Welsh students, regardless of where they are studying in the UK, large sums of money are flowing out of the Welsh economy. Many believe, including Burns and Prof Colin Riordan who is the chairman of Higher Education Wales, this money needs to remain in Wales and be utilised to improve teaching and research facilities at home.