From Pantycelyn to Penbryn: Welsh-medium accommodation alternative proposed

THE CHANCELLOR of the University and Chair of the University Council, Sir Emyr Jones Parry is to present a proposed resolution on the future of Pantycelyn at the upcoming University Council meeting on Monday 22nd June.

This resolution has come from “extensive discussions” and has been agreed with by UMCA and the Students’ Union as a way forward.

Penbryn proposed as Welsh-medium accommodation

The resolution opens with a commitment to the Welsh language and culture, and Welsh-medium dedicated Halls of Residences. To do this, the resolution asks the council to consider the use of Penbryn Hall of Residence as Welsh-medium accommodation come September 2015. Stating that:

“Council invites the Executive to provide Welsh medium accommodation in Penbryn from September 2015 and also offer sufficient space for communal and cultural activities for Welsh-language speakers and Welsh learners throughout the University.”

Additionally, the proposal recognises that: “accommodation  in Pantycelyn will cease this month”. However, the proposal does endorse the Executive recommendation that services should be moved into Pantycelyn to provide activities within the Welsh language. It also states that UMCA should continue to have access to Pantycelyn.

The proposal goes on to invite the university Executive to develop a brief for the provision of Welsh-medium residences and social space. The proposal asks for this brief to be ready by 30th April 2016, and to include consultation from UMCA, the student body, staff and the community.

Pantycelyn to re-open within 4 years

Pantycelyn Residence. Credit: Rebecca James

Pantycelyn Residence. Credit: Rebecca James

The proposal states that this brief is to be applied to Pantycelyn and that a final report will be produced which should include a funding strategy, and costed design for accommodation at Pantycelyn.

The proposal concludes by stating: “It is our intention, on this basis, to reopen Pantycelyn within 4 years to provide fit-for-the- future Welsh Medium Accommodation and social spaces.”

The full text from the resolution can be read here – Chair’s Proposal.

A university statement said:

“The text reinforces the University’s commitment to the Welsh language and the provision of Welsh language student accommodation at Aberystwyth, and a process to implement its intention to reopen Pantycelyn within four years for this purpose.

“The University including Welsh medium members of staff, UMCA and the Students’ Union, welcome this development and look forward to continuing constructive discussions on the future of Pantycelyn and the provision of Welsh language accommodation at Aberystwyth University.”

This proposal comes after there have been student protests against the closure of the Pantycelyn, involving a sit-in and a proposed hunger strike.

Elin Jones, the AM for Ceredigion said:

“There has been much concern about the future of Pantycelyn over the past couple of weeks. Aberystwyth has a terrific reputation for being able to offer a distinctive experience for Welsh speaking students and learners. Pantycelyn, and the social and cultural activities associated with it, have been central to that.

“It’s imperative that the commitment to provide that experience is retained, and I congratulate the students and their unions for the campaign to protect it; a campaign which reached far beyond Aberystwyth.

“I’m pleased that discussions between the university, the Students’ Union and UMCA on how best to achieve this have moved forward.”