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Expert in the spotlight in April 2013: Dafydd Trystan

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Featured Expert / Area of focus

Dafydd Trystan is working as registrar and senior academic manager for Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (National Welsh Medium College) www.colegcymraeg.ac.uk in Camarthen, Wales.

The main aims of the Coleg are:

  • To advance learning and knowledge in keeping with its constitution, by promoting, maintaining, developing and overseeing Welsh medium provision in higher education in Wales, working with and through higher education institutions in Wales.
  • As a centrally governed body, which takes an overview of all Welsh medium provision, to provide unity of purpose, cohesion and leadership through a national strategy.
  • To enrich, deepen and broaden the provision for students, stimulating and responding to demand from students and thereby increasing the numbers of students studying through the medium of Welsh.

Face to face with Dafydd Trystan

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/ multilingualism? 
I have always been actively interested in regional and minority languages in Europe. I speak Welsh, and began my career as a Welsh Medium lecturer in International Politics and saw the educational possibilities of using one language to expand students horizons on the world. My academic expertise is in social surveys, but more recently I’ve been working on how to use open educational resources to enhance minority language teaching. As registrar of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (the National Welsh Medium College) I try to ensure that our developments are firmly grounded in an international and multi-lingual perspective.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?
Our major challenge is how to deal with the dominance of English as a language of instruction in higher Education. English has always been the principal language of higher education in Wales, and just as Welsh Government is seeking to extend and expand the range of opportunities for students to study in Welsh; internationally we are seeing English becoming the lingua franca of higher education in a number of states where English is not the official language. How we respond creatively and dynamically to that challenge, and thus attract more students to study in Welsh is a major challenge.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?
The two big projects that I’m working on at the moment are related to higher education in Wales. As part of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, we are developing over 20 subject plans across the whole range of academic disciplines to plan and promote study in Welsh. This is the first time for anyone to do this, and while some disciplines, particularly in the Arts and Humanities have a long history of Welsh medium education – others in fields such as Health and Sciences are more challenging, but have enormous potential. I’ve also recently been appointed by the Welsh Government to a group looking at the opportunities and threats posed by On-line and open learning. The Group meets for the first time in April, 2013, so there’ll be more information and developments in due course.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention? 

The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol website: (Welsh and English)

The ‘Y Porth’ – (literally "the gateway") is a collaborative e-learning platform for the Welsh medium Higher Education sector ( in Welsh and English) . It allows universities across Wales to share Welsh medium resources nationally and deliver cross-institutional university modules using innovative e-learning technologies.

Build it and they shall come?” An evaluation of qualitative evidence relating to student choice and Welsh-medium higher education / Andrew James Davies and Dafydd Trystan– In : International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, vol. 15, no. 2, March 2012, p. 147-164 –
This paper seeks to evaluate the factors influencing students’ choice of Higher Education provision with specific reference to language of study. Placing the recent development of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol in an appropriate historical and theoretical perspective, this paper evaluates a major qualitative study relating to student choice in Wales.

Do you have any questions on these topics?
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Featured topic

How to use open educational resources to enhance minority language teaching