University’s Head of Welsh Development awarded for outstanding contribution to Welsh and bilingual education 

Date: Friday, June 21, 2024

Wrexham University’s Head of Welsh Development has been recognised for her contribution to the Welsh language and bilingual education provision in the higher education (HE) sector at a prestigious national awards ceremony.  

At last night’s (Thursday’s) Y Coleg Cymraeg Annual Awards at Canolfan S4C yr Egin in Camarthen, Elen Mai Nefydd received the Outstanding Contribution Award, which recognises her hard work and dedication throughout her two decades working in HE. 

Elen Mai has been in her current role since May 2022, in which she has developed and implemented the institution’s Welsh Language Academic Strategy and Action Plan, which sets out to enhance the provision of Welsh medium development at the University. 

Since its launch at the end of 2022, Welsh language modules have been introduced to a number of degree courses including Speech and Language Therapy and Professional Policing. An increase of both staff and students are also taking up the opportunity to learn Welsh – and since the previous academic year, students completing their work in the medium of Welsh has risen by 90%. 

Prior to taking up the role of Head of Welsh Development, Elen Mai was the Programme Leader for Theatre, TV and Performance at the University. 

Speaking about receiving the accolade, she said: “It’s a huge honour to receive this award. I accept it with pride and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the higher education sector and to work in collaboration with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.  

“It’s an absolute pleasure to lead on Welsh language provision at the University, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Wrexham University colleagues for both supporting and inspiring me.  

“I would also like to pay tribute to our outgoing Vice Chancellor, Professor Maria Hinfelaar for her continued support around all recent Welsh Language developments at the University.

“Receiving this award instils confidence in me that we as an institution are on the right path with regards to promoting and championing the Welsh language amongst our university community. 

“Since the launch of the Welsh Language Academic Strategy in late 2022, Welsh language and bilingual provision at Wrexham University has gone from strength to strength. My intention is to continue with embarking on opportunities and helping staff and students continue to engage with the language as much as possible. I hope to continue to develop further opportunities through the medium of Welsh. 

“We are on a new and exciting path, and this award will help to ensure a continued central and robust place for the Welsh language in all aspects within the institution.” 

Professor Maria Hinfelaar, Vice Chancellor of Wrexham University, said: “An enormous congratulations to Elen Mai on receiving this prestigious national award from y Coleg Cymraeg for services to higher education, which recognises her efforts in enhancing provision of Welsh medium and bilingual education, here at Wrexham University. She has been an inspiration to students, staff and the wider community.  

“This is richly deserved recognition. She has worked incredibly hard to develop and deliver our Welsh Language Academic Strategy and Action Plan and for that, she is an extremely worthy recipient of this award. I expect it will support her to enhance her impact further. Llongyfarchiadau, Elen Mai.”   

At the awards ceremony, students, apprentices and lecturers from the higher education, further education and apprenticeship sector were awarded for their contributions to Welsh medium and bilingual education. 

Dr Ioan Matthews, Chief Executive at Coleg Cymraeg, added: "All of our winners deserve praise and recognition for their high quality work and contribution to Welsh and bilingual education in the higher education, further education and apprenticeship sector. We thank them for raising the profile of the Welsh language in their organisations, and we wish them well in the future.”