NSEAD argues that HE Arts courses and students, the creative industries and local economies will all suffer irreparably from the 50% government subsidy cuts, confirmed to NSEAD President Liz Macfarlane recently by the Minister of State for Universities.
In response to the 50 per cent cuts in government subsidies, NSEAD wrote to the Department for Education in July. We wrote to oppose and explain why the cuts to higher education arts courses are both unsustainable and damaging. We wrote:
Our members are united in the belief and knowledge that the recently confirmed cuts to higher education arts courses are unsustainable and will have immediate and damaging impact on art, craft and design higher education provision, on standards and the creative industries talent pipeline.
Our letter went on to to list why the cuts, will impact on higher education provision and in turn standards, on the talent pipeline and in turn the creative industries. We also deplored the rhetoric used to justify the cuts: to give to ‘key courses’ and, for ‘priorities that have emerged in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic’. We believe this language is divisive, and that long-term the cuts will make the UK economically and culturally poorer. We asked for the DfE to reconsider the reduction.
It is with disappointment, but not surprise, that the Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, has replied only to confirm the cuts. Her letter states that on the one hand the UK's arts HEI courses are world class and that the government wishes to celebrate the vital contribution that arts and social sciences make to higher education and to the economy, but on the other, that the funding cuts will go ahead. The minister's letter continues to argue that the cuts are a small percentage of total HEI income. NSEAD does not accept that one percent of total income for any university will not impact on student experience or that students will not be asked to make up this shortfall. We have also learned that the list of 16 institutions that will be given a share of the £10m extra funding, noted in the Minister's response, do not include any art colleges outside of London. This is not levelling up, this is not acceptable.
Liz Macfarlane, NSEAD president said:
'We cannot agree that the cuts will not impact on standards and provision. Our labour market needs investment in the creative industries, so does the pipeline that feeds them. It will take years for the arts to return to their pre-pandemic successes and, without investment, how can arts higher education courses remain the jewel in the crown.
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In response to the measures rolled out by the government, Keith Brymer Jones said:
'If we do not invest in creative subjects throughout our education system we will be a much poorer nation on so many levels.'
Michele Gregson says:
NSEAD does not accept the reductive binary subject divisions created through the lens of pandemic rhetoric. We believe that this is harmful to our subject, and harmful to all those who study and engage in our subject. We believe that interdisciplinary responses to the issues facing us all, every nation throughout the globe, are as vital now as they have always been. Here in the UK, our creative arts courses impact positively at local, national, indeed international levels. They are a jewel in the UK's crown, and to retain their position, they need support, recognition and investment.
You can read Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, letter here.