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Cuts to funding of creative & performing arts in UK universities


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Dear All,

We've known for some time informally that the Office of Students has been proposing to re-organise the extra government funding that 'high cost' subjects receive (the Teaching] Grant) in addition to the privatised tuition fee. 

 

The proposal has now been published, and there is a consultation, with a very short time frame (hmmmm) - responses are required by 6th May. The main issue is the decision to remove all extra funding to arts & humanities subjects, so as to transfer all resources to science & technology (STEMM) teaching at UK universities. This is because, apparently, these are 'high cost' but 'low value' degrees. 

 

If you would like to protest against this short-sighted policy, please can I ask you to consider signing this petition:

 

https://www.campaignforthearts.org/petitions/stop-the-50-percent-funding-cut-to-arts-subjects-in-higher-education/?fbclid=IwAR1IC8daSQmnY4b9n4y078fqLmrQ9vhZwVptQJIJ41Lt_T9dEVtBoEFYako

 

Anyone is invited to respond to the consultation - as an individual, a university student, a teacher, or a student's parent, perhaps. You can find the documentation here:

https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/consultation-on-recurrent-funding-for-2021-22/

 

I hope the Mods don't mind me letting you know about this. As a community of arts lovers, dancers, and parents of dancers, I thought you should know about this.

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I totally agree with Kate_N that it is short sighted. As a university careers adviser for many years I found that, while these disciplines did not immediately guarantee high salaries, they develop many 'soft' and people skills that are very relevant to many careers and generate the creativity that is essential for enterprise, more than the STEM subjects; and many engineering graduates, for example, don't pursue that career but find accountancy more financially rewarding. These arts disciplines often aid the life chances that the government claims it wants to improve for disadvantaged young people.

But above all, from our perspective, hitting funding for the performing arts will reduce opportunities for young people to enter the arts professions.

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I’m appalled and saddened. I have signed and shared. At a point in history when mental health is a top priority, surely there should be support for the arts given that they have a such a positive impact of mental health and wellbeing, for all ages. 

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I signed it earlier today as one of my London ballet teachers sent it to me. 
It is shocking and seems a bit underhand and also depressing in how this Gov obviously sees the Arts. 
But it’s the Arts in some form which have got many people through this pandemic. 

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Thank you so much everyone. 

 

If you would like to respond to the consultation itself, there is an excellent thread on Twitter with some suggested answers:

 

 

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As the Information Specialist for Humanities and Performing Arts in the University of Plymouth library, I have a special interest in this and have of course done my part. I know what problems this is likely to cause for the staff and students I liaise with and I fully expect it will be taking centre stage at the next round of Departmental meetings!

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Having looked at the consultation document it’s not all STEM courses it’s those in  shortage areas, largely Health care. Is the increase there because they’ve increased the amount of places to cope with workforce shortages? I couldn’t see how many courses/ students the funding related to? Also an uplift for specialist institutions, does that cover ballet schools, drama colleges etc? 
Bit confused why media studies is in the high cost list?!

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Just to say make sure you fill in the consultation document in the second link as they are duty bound to consider and report on the feedback received but I don’t think there’s any similar duty for the petition

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8 hours ago, Peony said:

Bit confused why media studies is in the high cost list?!

 

Hmm, I wondered that as well, but then elsewhere it mentioned that journalism & related courses were included; a cynic might say that's to ensure that the supply of well trained investigative reporters is smothered...

 

The consultation document makes for very depressing reading; clearly 'expensive' courses in the arts (covering dance, drama, music, media studies & erm archaeology) are in for devastating cuts in the near future (politically I don't find this very surprising as most Conservative politicians are very interested in making the arts financially support itself or lose it if it doesn't). It is very disappointing that this has not received broader publicity since March 26th as I would have written to my MP & contributed to the consultation, but the period closes tomorrow (6th).  I also disagree with the removal of the London weighting & the lack of realistic replacement for the Erasmus exchange scheme.  Overall, it would seem that the number of institutions, students & courses are going to be squeezed & inevitably it will mean students from modest backgrounds could be priced out of the courses that do survive & what employment prospects might exist in 5-10 years time is anyone's guess.

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It’s a difficult issue and I do think there are too many university places, some of which aren’t very high value. One or two of the dance institutions have also been a bit controversial in that regard (perhaps can’t be discussed on the forum though!). STEM subjects are not immune either, I suspect the funding will stretch over an increase in places so will be less per person and there are huge moves by the government to make healthcare professions higher level apprenticeships or cut back on qualifications. All a move in the wrong direction to me

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Diandri said:

 

It is very disappointing that this has not received broader publicity since March 26th as I would have written to my MP & contributed to the consultation, but the period closes tomorrow (6th). 

 

Hmmmm - we've known about the proposals since March, but the actual invitation for consultation & the means to respond were only opened about a week ago ... 

 

The overarching issue is that the current undergrad tuition fee doesn't quite cover the cost of even a "cheap" degree (such as English or Biology). The real cost is closer to the fees charged to international students. The extra costs are met primarily by all university staff working unpaid overtime. But fees are not popular, and raising them to the level which would help universities to balance their books is probably thought to be not politically wise.

 

And as for "too many" courses and "low value" - the Cultural Learning Alliance, and the Arts Council (England) have produced some really interesting stats on this:

https://culturallearningalliance.org.uk/office-for-students-consults-on-49-cuts-to-he-arts-courses-funding/

 

As has the government itself. The cultural/creative industries in the UK are an economic success story - the government itself estimated that they generated gross value of £115 billion  per annum, and employ over 2 million people (you can find this info on the GOV.UK website). Education in music, dance, and drama departments in UK universities  feeds this industry - it's not just graduates of acting or ballet schools who go into the creative industries, and the job roles and pathways of employment are much wider than most people recognise. Although posters here will know more than most about just what it takes to get a company of dancers onto the stage in front of an audience. 

 

UK performing arts are world leading (eg. think of all the people from all over the world who want to study & perform here) - I think it's such a pity that we're currently being so short-sighted about sustaining them.

 

Anyway, thanks to people who've registered this issue - it's really appreciated. I'm proud to be a citizen of a country where the arts are so valued by us ordinary people - a pity those in charge don't see it this way sometimes.

Edited by Kate_N
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I've sent a response, arguing the employment/economic value of the arts careers, having researched, written and edited on the topic.

I also made the point that the cuts might be regarded as an example of indirect sex discrimination, since women are often especially attracted to those disciplines.

I commented on the widespread view that difficulties in funding drama courses has resulted in undue reliance on Eton-educated actors, also that careers like music/drama/dance/art therapies complement health professionals. Plus a lot more!

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10 hours ago, Kate_N said:

Hmmmm - we've known about the proposals since March, but the actual invitation for consultation & the means to respond were only opened about a week ago ... 

 

 

Hi Kate,

Then that's even worse than I thought as that is not an acceptable timeframe for considered responses from affected groups. My degree is actually in Public Policy & did my dissertation on the (positive) financial value of the arts to local economies (Birmingham in the 2000s), but I opted not to work professionally in a policy role as it used to be a very dry specialism. 

 

Skim reading the document last night actually made me very angry if this is what passes for a 'consultation' these days. Decisions have clearly already been made & this is very much a rubber stamp consultation period where feedback is not wanted & will probably end up in the shredder. It is very frustrating that this government cannot seem to see the value of investing in young people to equip them with the necessary skills to enable them to work in the creative industries which contribute so massively to the economy or more likely it just doesn't care. 

 

I suspect a closer reading this weekend & a study of the supporting docs will red flag several other areas of concern (a couple of the footnotes had me busy with the highlighter pen).

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On 06/05/2021 at 22:14, Diandri said:

Skim reading the document last night actually made me very angry if this is what passes for a 'consultation' these days. Decisions have clearly already been made & this is very much a rubber stamp consultation period where feedback is not wanted & will probably end up in the shredder.

 

Ys, that was my reading as well! It's also internally contradictory - things like acknowledging that creative arts education is very good for students with mental health issues, but that that is not enough of a priority.

 

It's blatantly ideologically driven (and I've had this confirmed by someone with Westminster insider knowledge).

 

Given that we have a PM with one of those really "useless" degrees in the arts (what does on do with a Classics degree?) it's bafflingly anti-arts & humanities.

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 One thing I was curious about: “10 million increase in funding to specialist providers”. What does that mean? What’s a specialist provider? Does it mean that, say, a music course at a university might have its funding cut, but one at a conservatoire such as the Royal College of Music wouldn’t? Have I missed somewhere where it explains?

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2 hours ago, rowan said:

 One thing I was curious about: “10 million increase in funding to specialist providers”. What does that mean? What’s a specialist provider? Does it mean that, say, a music course at a university might have its funding cut, but one at a conservatoire such as the Royal College of Music wouldn’t? Have I missed somewhere where it explains?


I also picked that up but didn’t read closely enough to know if I had just missed the list. I would presume it’s specialist drama, dance, music as I can’t see any STEM institutions fitting the criteria. 
I still am not clear why humanities, media studies, archeology are eligible for additional funding above say, a classics course? Are they expensive to provide?  Subsidising courses allows employers to pay lower wages and make more profit, I’m not sure it benefits the workers but don’t think that will change with the current gov

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Found it in the 3rd document, specialist providers are all the royal colleges, university of the arts, Trinity, arts colleges etc. Only odd one not on there is RADA which is under ‘other’. So They may be spared? Although London funding is going completely for all courses which would affect most of the above 

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9 hours ago, rowan said:

 One thing I was curious about: “10 million increase in funding to specialist providers”. What does that mean? What’s a specialist provider? Does it mean that, say, a music course at a university might have its funding cut, but one at a conservatoire such as the Royal College of Music wouldn’t? Have I missed somewhere where it explains?

 

You've not missed anything - that is the proposal. 

 

It makes an inaccurate distinction between performing & creative arts courses at conservatoires and universities, by assuming that only the graduates of 11 conservatoires nationally, make any contribution to the creative/cultural sector. It focuses only on training of a handful of performers, whereas there are many more types of employment, and pathways to such employment in the cultural industries. Some of those jobs might be done by anyone without specialist training, but others not.

 

And there are some surprising crossovers - although not surprising to anyone in the industry.

 

The man who taught my brother how to use a follow spot in big arena concerts (my bro is now a technical director of various huge public events such as Olympic ceremonies) also knew his music & his ballet. He was once asked by a colleague how he managed to get the follow spot straight onto a dancer as the dancer jetéd on stage from the wings. "I count the music, of course" the lx man answered. He knew the ballet, he knew the steps, he knew the music.

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The list of specialist institutions is very small and doesn’t include ballet or musical theatre schools (though remember this is degree institutions not MDS or DaDa institutions. Several music conservatories are on it alongside places such as London School of Tropical Medicine and some art/design collleges. 

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On 11/05/2021 at 19:54, Jewel said:

The list of specialist institutions is very small and doesn’t include ballet or musical theatre schools (though remember this is degree institutions not MDS or DaDa institutions. Several music conservatories are on it alongside places such as London School of Tropical Medicine and some art/design collleges. 


there are some on the list including Trinity Laban, conservatoire of dance and drama and LIPA

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LIPA isn't on the published  list I saw.  Is there an updated version somewhere?

 

I guess I think of places like Trinity more as music conservatoires.  Guildhall is on it, but again I think that's more to do with the music side than the drama.  The one well known drama school that is on it is Central.

 

The specialist institutions currently are:

 

University of the Arts, London
Conservatoire for Dance & Drama
Cortauld Institute of Art
Cranfield University
Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Harper Adams University
Institute of Cancer Research
London School of Tropical Medicine
National Film & TV School
Royal Academy of Music
Central School of Speech & Drama
Royal College of Art
Royal College of Music
Royal Northern College of Music

Royal Vetinerary College
Trinity Laban

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So, does this mean that a ballet school that offers a degree like Central School of Ballet will be faced with the double whammy of losing funding and also losing London weighting? I have to say, I would have thought that was a specialist institution and would be on the list. Perhaps the list isn’t fully complete.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Jewel said:

LIPA isn't on the published  list I saw.  Is there an updated version somewhere?

 

I guess I think of places like Trinity more as music conservatoires.  Guildhall is on it, but again I think that's more to do with the music side than the drama.  The one well known drama school that is on it is Central.

 

The specialist institutions currently are:

 

University of the Arts, London
Conservatoire for Dance & Drama
Cortauld Institute of Art
Cranfield University
Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Harper Adams University
Institute of Cancer Research
London School of Tropical Medicine
National Film & TV School
Royal Academy of Music
Central School of Speech & Drama
Royal College of Art
Royal College of Music
Royal Northern College of Music

Royal Vetinerary College
Trinity Laban


it’s in the 3rd document on the consultation link in Kate’s original post. There are definitively more than you have linked to. It also lists university of London as ‘specialist’ which I presume would cover all the individual colleges. I’m no expert but they all day ‘specialist’ next to them so I presume all in that category.

 

trinity Laban lists dance and musical theatre on their website, and CDD covers Rambert. I think some ballet places offer a Trinity diploma, probably those with aspiring dancers would know more.

 

 

Edited by Peony
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3 hours ago, rowan said:

So, does this mean that a ballet school that offers a degree like Central School of Ballet will be faced with the double whammy of losing funding and also losing London weighting? I have to say, I would have thought that was a specialist institution and would be on the list. Perhaps the list isn’t fully complete.


I think it’s done on the awarding institution. Central says theirs is university of Kent, so I don’t think they would get London weighting. I don’t know how they decide who their awarding university is and whether they can change. Or whether that university has agreed funding and would take the hit rather than the course? (Which isn’t without issue as they may presumably remove the accreditation of it’s not profitable to provide? )

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Yes, Central is not on the list at all. However, the University of Kent is, but it’s not a specialist provider. Central can’t be the only specialist provider that has degrees formally awarded by a different institution.

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