Mid Wales

Call to end Aberystwyth University's Mauritius campus

Aberystwyth seafront and a beach on Mauritius Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Back in Aberystwyth, up to 150 jobs at the university are potentially at risk

Aberystwyth University should "pull the plug" on its "struggling" Mauritius campus if it fails to increase student numbers, an AM has said.

The campus, which opened in 2015, was built to accommodate 2,000 but has just 106 enrolled students.

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas said the venture had been considered an "unwise move" from the outset.

The university said it was a "long-term investment" and it was "committed to eliminating losses in Mauritius".

In May, the university announced potential job losses as it tries to make £11.4m of cuts by April 2019.

The campus has international and UK students, and offers courses including criminal law, business finance and computer science.

The income from fees is split between the university and Boston Campus, the company responsible for building it.

Last year, a former vice-chancellor for the university described the venture as "madness" after just 40 students enrolled during its first academic year.

Image caption The university has reopened its voluntary severance and early retirement scheme

The institution made a loss of nearly £200,000 from the venture during that year.

The two other British universities to open in Mauritius - Wolverhampton and Middlesex - both had about 90 enrolments in their first year on the island, according to figures gathered by the country's higher education regulator.

The University of Central Lancashire also offers courses in Mauritius.

Last year, Wolverhampton announced it was closing its campus four years after it opened.

Responding to figures seen by Newyddion 9, Mr Thomas, AM for Mid and West Wales, said: "The first impressions are this venture is somewhat struggling and is finding it difficult to fulfil its potential as it was advertised at the time.

"Of course, many people thought it was an unwise move by the university to go to Mauritius in the first place. The aim of the scheme surely was to attract new money that would support the university in Aberystwyth.

"If that doesn't happen the plug must be pulled on the scheme."

A spokesman for Aberystwyth University said: "Our Mauritius campus opened in 2015 as a long-term investment aimed at offering an Aberystwyth educational experience to students from east Africa, the sub-continent and Asia, as well as the island of Mauritius.

"As part of our ongoing sustainability implementation plan, we are committed to eliminating losses in Mauritius."

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