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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 07:05 GMT
Students sleep out in bay protest
Students spend the night protesting
Students held an all-night protest outside the assembly in Cardiff Bay
Students from across Wales have spent the night sleeping outside the Welsh assembly in Cardiff Bay.

They are protesting against what they say is a lack of Welsh-language provision in universities.

Welsh Education Minister Jane Davidson said there were not enough courses yet but she wanted to see the number double by the end of the decade.

Around 50 students from Aberystwyth brought sleeping bags to spend the night near the assembly steps - they were still there on Wednesday morning.

'Second class citizens'

Catrin Dafydd, chair of the Aberystwyth Guild of Students said not enough resources were being given to increase the number of Welsh-medium courses.

She said: "It's not very pleasant spending the night out in the cold weather but we felt we had no choice,"

I want very much to support students who want to learn in Welsh, but for that to happen we need the lecturers to teach them
Education Minister Jane Davidson

"Students who want to learn through the medium of Welsh are very unhappy and things have come to a head - we're being treated as second class citizens."

The assembly government says it has dedicated substantial funds specifically to Welsh-medium education, with extra funding given to projects to expand the range of courses being offered in Welsh and to recruit staff to teach them.

Ms Davidson said: "I want very much to support students who want to learn in Welsh, but for that to happen we need the lecturers to teach them and to develop the resources."

She pointed to a steering group run through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, which is developing the agenda.

The minister said there also needed to be a proper acknowledgement of the funding already being provided for teaching students through the medium of Welsh.

The total teaching grant allocated to the sector for this year is 237m.

She said it was disingenuous to claim that only 1.6m was being allocated to teaching in Welsh - as this was additional to the costs of teaching students.

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