Students want to understand Assembly

Lleu Williams reports on research that says more education is needed about Welsh devolution

Journalism students need to be taught to cover devolution and devolved politics if we are to achieve better plurality and more accurate coverage. This is one of the main recommendations in a new report published yesterday, Young People, Employment and Devolution in Wales.

Commisioned by by Ein Dyfodol/Our Future – an organisation that is part of the Changing Union project – the report explores the attitudes of students and young professionals prospects in the fields of media and law and what impact could enhancing their devolution have on their university and career choices.

It says the asymmetrical nature of UK devolution makes covering devolution accurately very challenging for young journalists. It found that the content of journalism and law courses in Wales do not place enough emphasis on understanding Welsh devolution.

It says this lack of emphasis on Welsh devolution may be affecting the quality of legal services in Wales. Welsh legal education needs to balance the need to provide further Welsh-specific training with the advantages of the current law degree that enables graduates to practice in both Wales and England.

A greater focus on devolution in media courses would also receive a positive response. In addition a majority of interviewees welcomed the prospect of the devolution of broadcasting. They believed devolution would create greater opportunities for young journalists, both students and professionals, in Wales.

On the other hand  working and studying in the field of law in Wales had a more cautious approach, especially to the prospects for the creation of a distinctive Welsh legal jurisdiction. There was uncertainty about the prospects for the academic and legal professions in the event of further devolution in this field. Co-editor of the report, Adam Evans said,

“It’s clear from the research that young people working and studying in the fields of media and the law in Wales require significant reassurances and safeguards before any further devolution, and particular consideration needs to be given to education. It’s clear from the research undertaken here that young people are not against devolution, they’re just not sure.”

“Whilst this research only offers a snapshot of the attitudes of young people and young professionals in Wales towards devolution in their respective fields, the findings should offer much food for thought for policy makers in Wales, especially with successive polling showing that devolution is now the settled will of the Welsh people.”

Lleu Williams is the Project Coordinator for the UK’s Changing Union.

7 thoughts on “Students want to understand Assembly

  1. This is a massive issue. One of the key problems is that our schools, colleges and universities don’t teach Welsh politics, Welsh law or Welsh affairs in any great detail, and with little real enthusiasm for the subject when it does arise. Thinking within our education system – especially at university level – is predominantly Anglo, with the focus being on whatever emanates from London (and Westminster). Similarly, European discourses are ignored, which naturally suits not only UKIP but also other British nationalist parties such as Labour. So, many young people think the world begins and ends within the M25. A weird sense of “external parochialism” in effect. Unless we alter this soon, and allow our young people the opportunity to understand, and engage in, our society and its political structures, then we will live to regret it in the years ahead as we are further subsumed into a rightward drifting English body politic.

  2. What a load of Rubbish.As everyone can see Devolution in Wales is an utter failure.Health,Education, Local Government and Industry to name but four items are worse run than in England. The only mater worthy of Study is how to hand our delegated powers back to Parliament in London and staging a referendum to prove that that is what people in Wales want.
    That may be a little difficult since Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas and Assembly members appear unlikely to vote to take their mouths out of the “trough”

  3. I partly agree with Peter- I’d love to have another referendum just to prove (yet again) that devolution is just what people in Wales want.

  4. @Ben
    Lol! you mean another referendum where only 30% turn out to vote for because the rest of us didnt even know it was happening…. we were too busy watching Channel 4 News and reading the Times instead of the patronising spoon fed “we’ll do the thinking for you” nonsense on BBC Wales.

    As for the article itself…. I’d have thought that Plaid voters like Lleu Williams would be happy with the current situation. After all they have highly politicised organisations like the Urdd to motivate just one section of our youth to get involved with Welsh politics. Perhaps if Welsh politics wasn’t kept a secret from the rest of our youth then we may be facing a very different future… one I suspect Lleu wouldn’t actually like that much.

  5. Comeoffit says
    “…you mean another referendum where only 30% turn out to vote for because the rest of us didnt even know it was happening”
    Ignorance, and complacency, should not be something to celebrate. But, having said that, I would certainly acknowledge that dumbing down is a key tool of conservatism, and, when applied in Wales, provides a cogent basis for British nationalist rhetoric.

  6. I’ll respond to that comment gladly when you stop using immature, child-like expressions such as ‘lol’ on in an informed debate.

  7. If young people, and indeed adults, want to understand politics they have to understand so many layers that Regional administration comes a long way down the list.

    Start with the UN and its assortment of campaigning organisations directed towards world governance – the IPCC, WMO, WHO etc. etc. which try to impose global standards of questionable merit. Then we have the EU and the Council of Europe which both impose top-down legislation that affects all the layers below them. The UK could leave either or both but it hasn’t so their diktats matter to every layer of governance below them.

    Then the UK government and the processes in both Houses – though they don’t have as much to do as they used to apart from rubber-stamping diktats from ‘above’.

    Then we have the four Regional Assemblies – London, Scotland, Ulster and Wales, which are all different just to confuse the issue further. If Ted Heath and Jean Monnet had had their way they would all have been the same. They still have their 2 representatives on the EU Committee of the Regions but what they do is off almost everybody’s radar these days. By this Regional legislature level there isn’t all that much left to understand because so much of what they appear to do is already pre-ordained from ‘above’.

    And then we have local government in its various layers but, typically 3 more.

    What is abundantly clear is that seasoned politicians and political journalists, never mind young people studying media and law, cannot get their heads around exactly who and what controls most aspects of our lives. We have so many layers of legal jurisdiction, legislation, and administration that it is now beyond understanding. Maintaining and complying with this myriad of organisational layers also consumes far too much of our resources and talented people – it is simply unaffordable. Which is why so many of us would like to reduce the layers to a minimum rather than adding to an already incomprehensive mess.

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