The government’s decision to reduce arts funding in universities as of the next academic year is facing a widespread backlash.
In his letter to the OfS, the Minister for Education, Gavin Williamson, presented the government’s plan to cut funding for humanities and arts subjects at UK universities by 50%. Subjects that are not on the priority list will receive £17m less funding, starting as of next academic year.
The decision has caused outrage, particularly within the music industry. They stress that reducing opportunities for music study in higher education will have a huge impact on the music industry, which contributed £5.2bn to the UK economy in 2018. Jarvis Cocker, the former Pulp frontman, has accused the government of treating arts education as “expendable”.
Public Campaign for Arts, who were particularly active in challenging the government for their ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot’ advertisement which caused controversy in October last year, have also expressed great concern. They view the decision as an “attack” on the arts industry and have highlighted that the “arts enrich our lives, our communities and our economy.”
The announcement coincides with decisions by Aston University to remove its history, language and translation courses as well as London South Bank University its history and geography courses. While some argue that this is justified in order to boost STEM subject uptake, others say it exacerbates the issue of inaccessibility in humanities subjects. The British Academy, for example, has argued that decreased funding for arts and humanities courses will have the effect of “narrowing the student body and making the study of performing and creative arts courses an elitist pursuit”.
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