Understanding the Welsh Language Standards for higher education websites

Cut through the legalese with my straightforward guide to the new Welsh Language Standards for further and higher education websites.

This is a summarised version of the standards intended to help in-house web teams, agencies and content authors understand the new obligations. I am not a legal expert. If in doubt, check the published standard (known as Schedule 6) and discuss with your institution.


In September 2017, the Welsh Language Commissioner will issue compliance notices to 27 further and higher education institutions, requiring them to meet specific standards to support the Welsh language. The standards apply to the full range of communications (phone calls, meetings, intranets and apps to name a few). Here I’ve provided a digested read of those relevant to public-facing websites.

Organisations included

  • Aberystwyth University
  • Bangor University
  • Bridgend College
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Cardiff University
  • Career Choices Dewis Gyrfa Limited
  • Cardiff and Vale College
  • Coleg Cambria
  • Coleg Ceredigion
  • Coleg Gwent
  • Coleg Sir Gâr
  • Coleg y Cymoedd
  • Gower College Swansea
  • Glyndŵr University
  • Grŵp Llandrillo Menai
  • The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales  (HEFCW)
  • Merthyr Tydfil College Limited
  • NPTC Group
  • the Open University
  • Pembrokeshire College
  • the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Limited
  • Saint David‘s Catholic College
  • Swansea University
  • the University of Wales
  • University of Wales: Trinity St David
  • University of South Wales
  • WEA YMCA CC Cymru

Types of standards

The standards are divided into different types:

Relevant for public websites

  • Service delivery standards (covering services to “customers” of the institution)
  • Standards for supplementary matters (which require that specific documents are published on institutional websites)

Not relevant for public websites

  • Policy making standards (considerations when creating/changing policies)
  • Operational standards (for internal purposes)
  • Record keeping standards (considerations for record keeping)

Service delivery standards

According to the service delivery standards, the following aspects of public-facing websites must be made available in Welsh:

  • the text of new and existing webpages (including text in the navigation and the interface itself)
  • downloadable documents
  • forms (and pre-populated information displayed on them)


  • both versions of webpages must behave identically (the Welsh version must be “fully functional”)
  • the visual presentation of both versions must be the same
  • both versions must be published at the same time
  • there must be a clear link to the Welsh version of each page/form from the English version
  • Welsh and English must be treated equally when it comes to the presentation of the organisation’s corporate identity


The standards apply not only to information related to the “admission and selection of students” but also “information provided to students and prospective students about the body” (see page 44). This means all pages of an institution’s website are included, even if they are not directly intended for use by students or prospective students.

However, there are a few exceptions which do not need to be provided in Welsh:

  1. text that the institution has not produced itself (see page 45)
  2. video and audio (see page 51)
  3. user-generated content such as comments or discussion forums (see page 51)

Full list of relevant service delivery standards

Again, don’t take my word for it. Here are the individual standards that I consider relevant:

  • Standard 55 (existing webpages)
  • Standard 56 (homepage)
  • Standard 57 (new webpages)
  • Standard 58 (clear links from English to Welsh versions)
  • Standard 59 (interface and menus)
  • Standard 43 (documents)
  • Standard 46 (brochures, prospectuses, leaflets, pamphlets or cards)
  • Standard 47 (policies, strategies, annual reports and corporate plans; guidelines and codes of practice; consultation papers)
  • Standard 48 (rules)
  • Standard 49 (press statements)
  • Standard 53, 53A, 54 (forms)
  • Standard 87 (presentation of corporate identity)

The original text is available in Schedule 6 of the Welsh Language regulations.

Supplementary standards

Schedule 5 (page 84 onwards) includes the details of specific documents that must be published on institutions’ websites.

Deadlines for compliance

The compliance notices issued in September 2017 will include “imposition dates” indicating when each organisation is required to comply. Typically this will be six months from the date of the compliance notice unless an extension has been agreed with the Welsh Language Commissioner. It is my understanding that extensions of up to 12 months will be considered.

I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions, tweet me @mrgrahambird