FLINTSHIRE Council has lent its voice to those fighting to keep Glyndwr University independent.

At a meeting of the full council this week members expressed concerns over the impact any takeover could have on Flintshire and the economy.

Cllr Chris Bithell, a former teacher, said: “This is the most populous part of North Wales and we really need a university. We need people with the knowledge and the skill to take this country forward.”

The council has spoken out after a controversial shake-up of university education was announced by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

Under the plans the Wrexham-based university could lose its autonomy and be led by Bangor or Aberystwyth universities.

Community leaders in Flintshire said the move could be potentially damaging for Flintshire as the university has built strong links with the business community, especially Airbus in Broughton.

Cllr Matt Wright, executive member for regeneration and tourism, said: “It’s absolutely critical that the focus doesn’t switch from North East Wales. This part of Wales is the power house of industry, commerce and enterprise.

“The council needs to send a very clear message that nothing should be done to jeopardise that position.”

The university was also praised for enabling local students to emerge from higher education without a massive debt.

Cllr Bithell added: “The prospect of moving away from home to university has become less attractive than in the past and a lot of students have decided to go to universities close at hand so it’s essential there is provision locally.”

A public consultation on the plans ends on Saturday, October 5 after which education minister Leighton Andrews will make a decision on the proposals.

l THE Leader has been inundated with responses to our ‘Hands off our Uni’ campaign.

Hundreds of people have filled in our campaign coupons calling for Leighton Andrews to reject the proposals.

The deadline for sending us the coupons is 10am on Monday.