27/01/2013 The Wales Report


Tim Rogers examines the Welsh governement's tuition fees policy. Plus, should weight loss surgery should be more readily available on the NHS?

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Tonight, the tuition fees gamble, and warnings that the Welsh


government's policy could damage universities. The economy has


shrunk, is it time for another plan? Will football soon kick rugby


into touch to become Wales's national sport? Rugby has become


the sick man of Welsh sport. Welcome to a controversial game of


two cards. -- too halves. Good evening, and welcome to a programme


that looks at the issues to you in Wales, and the important decisions


about our lives. It is a Welsh government flagship policy, and a


buffer to the rise in tuition fees across the UK. Education experts


are warning that the decision by the Education Minister to top up


the amount paid by Welsh students through a grant, no matter where


they study, is taking vital money away from Welsh universities. The


number of Welsh students choosing to study outside of Wales is going


up, while the number of students that choose to study inside Wales


is going down. There are growing fears that the Government's policy


After three years of academic grass, it is time to celebrate. Graduation


day at Swansea University, just like anywhere else, is a


recognition of achievement, a culmination of a journey. As we are


reminded in the ceremony, a university education is not just an


investment to shape a graduate's lives, once they become


professionals, they are learning experience will help to shape our


lives as well. They want future generations are graduates to be


just as happy as -- and proud as they are here today. The prospect


of debt means that celebrations are muted. Now that degrees are more


expensive, the Welsh government will pick up the bill for graduates.


The students started his medical course in Exeter last September. It


was the first one way universities are charging higher fees. His


course costs of �9,000 the AA, and five -- almost �9,000 here, and


almost half of that is met by the Welsh government. Summer my sisters


are studying writer now -- some of my sisters are studying, and it


would not have been financially viable for me to do it. The course


is very good, many people want to stay in England to practice,


because they feel they are better resources. Able have better


opportunities. It is a marketplace. When Welsh


students due to leave Wales, their money goes as well. More than 7,000


students crossed the border last year, more than the year before.


They took with them an estimated �31 million. In Scotland, students


to live there get all of their fees paid. Only if they go to a Scottish


university. There has always been a question mark about the economic


wisdom of giving students a free choice of whether they want to go,


been given a subsidy. That does not happen in Scotland, and I can't


think of any other countries that would do it. It is generous, but


perhaps it is too generous. Welsh universities, the money


leaving the country has a serious effect. There is only a finite


amount of money in the part, money for fees, and money for grants


given directly to universities for teaching and running buildings.


More spent on fees means less bent on block grants. In 2012, the block


grant funding was cut. What it means, indirectly, is that the


money available for higher education in Wales is less than it


would have been, it would be helpful to review the funding


system for Welsh universities. We need to focus resources on where it


is most needed, and where we are going to get the best value for


money for the Welsh government, and the future prosperity Wales. There


are students and their fees coming into Wales as well. Last year they


brought in �60 million for Welsh universities. The big worry is that


fewer English students are crossing the border. Numbers dropped by 17%


in 2012. Forever variety of reasons, the number of students coming


across the border has declined. -- for a variety. The calculations of


how the flow of money is going may have to be revised. It means that


the trends are falling application rates. If these trends continue,


there will be serious repercussions. Are you surprised by the enrolment


figures, and their friends? feared that this would happen. --


trends. If the universities don't get stronger, they were not -- they


will not attract students. Where are we heading with this policy?


fear it is going into trouble. In spite of these warnings, a


government rethink is not likely. The Welsh government has issued a


statement saying, our policy on this is very clear to the next


election. We're not going to change this. There is nothing in the


figures to suggest we should. Everyone will be hoping they are


right, the new figures showing applications for next year's


courses are published this week. Only then will we have an idea if


the sums are going to add up. Nobody expected good news on the


economy, but it was worse than expected. Economic output fell by


0.3% in 2012, and the UK may go into a third recession in four


years. Manufacturing output fell by 1.5%, reinforcing the impression


that the last year was a year of survival, not growth. There are


still no immediate signs of prosperity returning to our


factories, and high streets, anytime soon. There are now


increasing calls, including from Nick Clegg and Boris Johnson for


the Westminster government to change the strategy of public


spending cuts, and to plough money into massive infrastructure


projects. Would that work for Wales? Joining me is a former


economic adviser to Margaret Thatcher. Thank you for coming in,


the government has been cutting hard, they have been cutting deep,


and eight they have been cutting fast? They have not been cutting as


much as the Labour Party, or they have put themselves been -- they


themselves have been saying. It has been quite a moderate series of


cuts. Welfare spending has risen. If Boris Johnson is saying, hang on,


we need to think again about this, we to invest in infrastructure, it


just can't be about cutting? That is the problem. Infrastructure is


an easy target, that criticism is reasonable. What is not reasonable


is the idea that the British government can go ahead, and not


worry about the deficit. We have one of the largest ones in the


world, and we have to bring it down, the debt will spiral out of control,


and we could get into a dangerous place. If you attack welfare, and


benefit payments, you are going to have an effect on the economy.


There is a whole section of the economy which is dependent on


benefits? Economy is poorer as a result of the shock that has


occurred. You cannot manufacture of riches in the economy. All we are


talking about is the sharing of the austerity measures. Working people


have been hit very hard by it. People on welfare benefits,


obviously the pain of cuts has got to be shared pretty widely. You


cannot let welfare rise by 6% in real terms. Multinationals like


Starbucks are benefiting from not paying tax, you are suggesting that


we should cut back on but their payments to the most vulnerable in


society? There is no way you can let welfare romper away. We have to


remember that Starbucks creates jobs. -- romp. They need sensible


tax policies, business support, structure, they need to come to


their senses over the regulation over the banks, that is killing


credit. They need to get that going again, instead of going mad about


regulating the banks, and piling up their costs. We need to get credit


going. You are talking about what would benefit the Square Mile, the


City, the south-east of England. There are two economies, there is


that one, and the economy in Wales. That would benefit the people who


have done pretty well on the last 30 years, the rest of us will be


suffering was -- for sometimes? That is nonsense. This economy


needs improvement to credit. We want to create growth in Wales, we


don't want to increase handouts. The problem with government is that


it has inherited a begin tartan that economy. It cannot afford it.


-- entitlement economy. The fact that the matter raised, people in


Wales don't have any jobs, they can't get any credit, they are


absolutely on the floor, there are people who are suffering at the


moment. Your recipe, you're ready, is good for the south-east, but how


long would it be before Wales could recover under your plan? Wales is


recovering at the same rate as everywhere else. The growth in


employment is quite decent, nearly 2%. Wales is Sheringham that. You


are painting the wrong picture. -- Wales is sharing in that. There are


people who will be shouting at the television, come and live in my


life. You are talking as an economist, bankers, profiteers have


got us into this mess? Da is not really true. -- that is not really


true. Changes in the world economy has affected us. We have to live in


the world we are in, we have to adapt to that world, so does


government. Ordinary people often feel that government should do more


for them, but the problem is, they can look around, and see that the


economy is in a bad state, because of the crisis. We'll have to adapt


to these changes. Thank you very much.


Here are some more disturbing figures, more than half of Welsh at


-- adults are overweight, and we have some of the highest obesity in


the UK are. The statistics show that the number of obese people in


Wales lacks just behind that of the USA. What can be done to tackle the


problem? Is surgery one of the solutions? Currently the criteria


for surgery is different in England, patients only qualify if they have


a higher body mass index, and they must show that they have more


problems to qualify. One surgeon is calling for the threshold for the


NHS funded surgery to be lowered. We will hear from him in a moment,


he is a report. -- here's a report on a woman who tried dieting for


years. She had to wait three years Life for me at 22 stone, 22.5, was


very hard. I fell down the stairs twice because I could not see where


I was going. These are things that people forget about. It is actually


a disability as well when you are obese. I was classed as morbidly


obese. I look like an elephant, don't I? I suppose I look like a


hippo that way. Your confidence is just so low. It is in your feet.


You just feel rubbish in yourself. You are at such a low ebb and the


lower you feel, the more you eat for comfort. Even though you do not


think you are eating much, you actually are. It is lovely when you


go looking at the clothing that you have not had on in months. It is


not a major operation. It is keyhole surgery and just because of


that I have had a major life change. Every Tuesday I weigh myself to see


what I have lost. Within the last five-and-a-half months I have lost


5.5 stone. I am just absolutely over the moon. I am a totally


different person. I am working. I am saving the NHS money. I am


saving the council money. I am saving benefits money because I was


on all that before. Now I suppose I am adding to the public purse,


really. This is the size of a plate that I would eat normally, about


four tablespoons, and I am full. A tour of beans does me three days.


Marvellous. I get great value out of my foot now. I have had negative


feedback from having a gastric sleeve done. I was quite shocked. I


had an email from somebody saying to me, why don't you just shut your


mouth and eat less and then lose weight? That was not the point.


Give people the choice that are obese to have a life, to live, to


come off these benefits and the NHS and everything else, by doing one


simple operation. The operation is �20,000. Even that, I mean think of


the long term. I have another 20 odd years working life. What am I


paying back in with that? If I was to meet the people in Wales that


have the say on who gets the operation and who does not, I would


tell them to walk 10 miles in my shoes. At the end of the day, I


think it is a right, I think it is everybody's right to live. Jenny


cannon with some positive thinking. Joining me is Jonathan Berry, a


consultant surgeon who carried out with operations at a hospital in


Swansea. -- carries out weight loss operations. That look like a


drastic operation but how effective is it? It is very effective. It is


keyhole surgery and it removes a 2% of the stomach. It has a twofold


action. -- 80% of the stomach. She will lose 60% of her weight over


two years, but it is not so much just the weight loss, it is the


improvement in diseases related to obesity. But it is quite an


expensive procedure. What do you make of the opinion that somebody


expressed, emailing her, by telling her not to eat so much? I disagree


that it is expensive. We know that this kind of surgery is not just


one operation but a number of operations, which pay for


themselves in about two-and-a-half years. What I mean is that lots of


people have issues with being overweight. We know with these type


of operations that patients with diabetes, blood pressure issues, a


multitude of issues associated with being overweight, they all go away.


I sympathise with some arguments that these people should just go


and eat less. However, if your vice is eating, much like smoking or


alcohol, you can completely abstain from smoking or drinking alcohol,


but we have all got to eat. Well, your solution might sound fine, but


it is expensive at a time when the NHS is trying to find any way that


it can to save money. Would it not be better to spend that money on


prevention rather than an expensive cure? I completely agree. There are


some public health strategies in place at the moment that believe


that prevention is better than cure but that will not help my patients


that are 25 stone, sitting at home. We all know that we should get off


the bus one stop earlier, eat more fruit and fresh vegetables, but


that is not the solution to these problems that the patients have.


What are the criteria that should be used in Wales to decide whether


a patient should qualify for the procedure that we saw in that film?


When I was training in the surgery in England, if you were a patient


with a body mass index of more than 40, that being a ratio of your


height to wait, or the ratio of 35 with any issues like swollen ankles,


you are eligible for this surgery. We have a bizarre situation in


Wales where they have to have a body mass index of 50, twice the


weight they should be, and have an controlled illnesses like diabetes,


blood pressure and sleep apnoea. That clearly cannot go on. Would


you so that they have to be parity between Wales and England? -- would


you say? Certainly. We should move towards the English criteria. We


should have 300 patients per year on a population of 3 million and we


have 67, so there is catching up to do. Thank you.


It is a moment that will live on in sporting history and it is


incredible to think that it is 40 years ago to the date that this


John Williams! Ryan Williams! John Dawes. Great dummy. Tom Davies. The


Well, the try-scorer himself will be joining me to talk about but


iconic moment and a very different sporting life. Four decades on, and


it is football and not rugby drawing the big crowds to weekly


matches in Wales, with the success of Cardiff city in the championship


and Swansea's promotion to the Premier League. A question that


once seemed unthinkable is now being asked. As football replaced


rugby in the sporting hearts of the nation? Well, yes, according to one


Welsh historian. He has been to his own theatre of dreams to tell us


I think the time has come to face the fact that rugby has become the


sick man of Welsh sport. We have got it wrong in terms of politics


and administration. The focus has switched away from the clubs to the


regions in a way that indicate that rugby is no longer catching the


imagination of the people of Wales. There are some vibrant, lively


clubs in Wales, like Party Brit. To be absolutely honest, the level of


rugby in the Welsh Premiership is very poor indeed. The game has


become tedious and boring. What of the international days? What are


they now? The folk festival rather than imaginative in -- adventures


that they once were. Football is a different kettle of fish. Everybody


is talking about the game. In Singapore people are talking about


Wayne Rooney, and of course of in that list is the Swansea. People


are talking about Swansea around the world. Swansea being in the


Premiership has taken Welsh sport to universal audience which has


happened in an unprecedented way. Rugby, where are you? One


consequence of this has been the whole nature of sporting


conversation has changed in Wales. In the old days, we used to talk


endlessly about the Welsh Rugby 15. We were always picking our dream


team and we took great pride in spotting the new centre, the new


back-row forward. It has all gone. Now we just talk about whether


Bellamy will take City into the Premiership. Football no longer


belongs to the fans in a bobble hats. Everybody is jumping on the


bandwagon. If you know nothing about football, soccer, you can go


to any social event, any dinner party at your peril. Those of us


who grew up in the old days, when we stood with 5000 others, we know


in our heart of hearts that the bubble might burst. The television


money and foreign investment will go. But for the time being we have


the festival of football, which has brought great players from all


round the world to play in Cardiff and Swansea. What we must do at


this vital moment is ensure that we invest in our own talent and


produce our own stars. But the football culture that we are


creating should be one of excellence, it should be home-grown.


We must not just be spectators at this current feast of football.


Joining me now is a rugby legend Gareth Edwards. First of all, we


have to talk about that try. Did you think when you've scored it


that you would be asked questions about it for the rest of your life?


I was wondering if I would be asked questions about it after the game


because I remember it was very early in the game. The only thought


on mind and everybody else's minds was to beat New Zealand and I knew


there would be a reaction. I thought it was vitally important to


win the match but little did I think that at the time. I had a


feeling from the noise of the crowd that maybe it had been something


special, but I never thought for one minute that we would still be


discussing it years later. It was not just special. It was


inspirational, and not just for rugby players and supporters.


Inspirational for sports men of all kinds. But picking up on that


report, the suggestion is that a young generation now is being


inspired by football and not by club rugby. That may very well be


the case. I have enjoyed football all my life. I could have become a


professional footballer. They ended up playing rugby, with no regrets.


-- I ended up playing rugby. I enjoyed watching Swansea play this


year and over the last years I have watched Cardiff City play. I like


all sports in Wales. I don't care which side of the coin you on.


you were a multi-talented sportsman as a young man, would you have made


the same decision again? Would you go for rugby or football now?


you are young, you do not think about money. Lots of people say


that you want to play football because there is more money in it,


but I don't think young children do that. I have grandson's that play


rugby and soccer on the weekend, and they enjoy them both. I am


encouraging them to do that. Nobody knows what the future is. Some


children stop growing, so rugby, physical game, is not for them but


football is. This is an old chestnut. We have discussed this


over 30 or 40 years. When Wales beat Russia in the World Cup,


soccer was the best game in Wales. When Wales did well winning the


Grand Slam and the World Cup, rugby was the best game. Has regional


club rugby inspired the following that soccer has got? I think that


rugby per se needs to have a good look at itself. There is no doubt


that there is excitement about soccer and the way it is played at


the moment and of course there is the success that the local sides


have had, Cardiff and song say, over recent years. That is a fact.


-- Cardiff and Swansea. The regional game has not enjoyed the


success that people had. They have not won the European Cup, which is


possibly the stages by which we would be measured. But the Welsh


national side has done extremely well. As much as I enjoy watching


the national soccer side play, we have not won the World Cup


qualifier never mind the World Cup. You have to compare like with like


but that is difficult. Yes. We will all be rooting for Wales in the Six


Nations. What is your tip? I think we can cause an upset. Everybody


tends to think of Ireland as a favoured when they come to Cardiff,


but I cannot see that. -- a favourite. It depends on injuries,


no question, but if we can get some people back into the team, nothing


will stop Wales. There will only ever be one Gareth Edwards. Thank


you for joining us. That is it for the programme this week. You can


Tim Rogers examines the Welsh governement's tuition fees policy. Plus, as shocking figures show over half of Welsh adults are overweight or obese, the programme asks whether weight loss surgery should be more readily available on the NHS.

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