The University of Wales is a confederal university based in Cardiff, Wales. Founded by Royal Charter in 1893 as a federal university with three constituent colleges – Aberystwyth, Bangor and Cardiff – the university was the first university established in Wales, one of the four countries in the United Kingdom. The university was, prior to the break up of the federation, the second largest university in the UK.
A federal university similar to the University of London, the University of Wales was in charge of examining students, while its colleges were in charge of teaching. Historically, the University of Wales was the only university in Wales until the establishment of the University of Glamorgan in 1992.
Former colleges under the University of Wales included most of the now independent universities in Wales: Aberystwyth University (formerly University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Bangor University (formerly University of Wales, Bangor), St David’s University College (later University of Wales, Lampeter, and now merged with University of Wales Trinity Saint David), Cardiff University (formerly University of Wales, Cardiff), Swansea University (formerly University of Wales, Swansea), Cardiff Metropolitan University (formerly University of Wales Institute, Cardiff) and University of Wales, Newport (which merged with Glamorgan University in April 2013 to form the University of South Wales).
In 2007, the University of Wales changed from a federal structure to a confederal one, and many of the constituent colleges became independent universities. Following a number of controversies in the late 2000s involving overseas affiliates, cheating and student visas, a decision was made to abolish the university as it then existed.
From August 2017 it has been functionally integrated with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The Higher Education Statistics Agency recorded zero students registered with the University of Wales in the UK in 2018/19, but 3,345 students registered on transnational education courses outside the UK.