Thursday, July 22, 2021

Funding for Art and Design Education in England is cut

This is about news about:
  • 50% cuts in funding subsidy for art and design courses
  • a new campaigning organisation for the arts
  • the potential impact on students and those offering them courses 
  • what might happen as a result - including new digital courses accessible worldwide

The Art Newspaper is reporting a 50% cut in funding for arts and design courses in higher education across England - see UK government approves 50% funding cut for arts and design courses. Specifically:

  • the subsidy for each full-time student on an arts course will be cut from £243 to £121.50 next academic year (2021/22).
  • this cut in subsidy will save about £20 million
Apparently the government's thinking behind the cut to art and design courses is the need to reprioritise funding and divert it towards the provision of high-cost, high-value subjects that support the NHS... high-cost STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering and mathematics].

But where is the information on authoritative websites?

I can find the information in The Guardian's 

The problem I had initially is that I went to all the relevant websites - and couldn't find a single item of information about this on:

Until I found this OfS confirms funding reforms (20th July 2021)

So is this going to make a dramatic different to art education in England? Simple answer is I don't know.

What is true is that
  • most funding comes via tuition fees and not through public subsidy.
  • HOWEVER, if you cut funding this means either
    • a decrease in tuition places
    • an increase tuition fees
    • a reduction in places offering courses
    • you have a major rethink about how to cut costs and maintain education (eg focus on course delivery and not the buildings which house education - see below for one example)
i.e. you can't carry on at the same levels if you cut half the subsidy.

Public Campaign for the Arts

“The Government proposes that the courses that are not among its strategic priorities – covering subjects in music, dance, drama and performing arts; art and design; media studies; and archaeology – are to be subject to a reduction of 50 percent.” Petition to stop the 50% funding cut | Public Campaign for the Art
The only organisation which seems to be focused on the impact of changes in funding is the Public Campaign for the Arts
We formed in 2020 to protect UK culture from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Now we are the largest arts advocacy organisation in the country, with over 220,000 supporters nationwide. Our mission is to champion the value of the arts and creativity in the UK. Our vision is of a thriving society in which everyone’s creative potential is unlocked, and the benefits of art and culture are available to all.
This organisation reports that a YouGov/Public Campaign for the Arts poll found that  Government should maintain funding for arts courses in higher education, says majority of British public i.e. 
  • 70% of British adults, and 61% of 2019 Conservative voters, think it is important that students have the choice to study creative and performing arts subjects in higher education
  • 57% think it is important for the Government to maintain funding for creative and performing arts courses, increasing pressure on Gavin Williamson to abandon plans for a 50% cut

My thoughts


To be honest - within the context of a once in a century worldwide pandemic, billions of pounds of public money spent on keeping the economy and people afloat during the pandemic, it was absolutely INEVITABLE that there would be changes in funding priorities in both the short and medium term. Even with interest rates a low as they are right now.

I get where the government is coming from.  

I get why they think it's important to rebuild the aspects and education infrastructure which avoid a pandemic happening again. 

Although to be honest £20 million is a very small drop in the ocean of what is required. I think it's very likely that the Inquiry into the Pandemic which starts next year will find they wasted at least that through grossly irregular procurement from "chums of #10".

I also understand why people still support the importance of education for the arts (in a generic sense)

However it does seem to me to be poor communication NOT to highlight:
  • whether this is a temporary or permanent funding cut to funding art and design education;
  • what the strategic medium and long term future is for funding for the arts in England;
  • what partnerships they propose to use to strengthen corporate subsidy for art and design; and
  • what changes to delivery the government will support and provide funding for....

What about the aspiring artist? What about the universities?

From an individual artist's perspective, I think the writing may be on the wall

"Art for art's sake" is no longer flavour of the age!

If tuition fees go up, there'll be
  • a BIG incentive for art and design students to learn much more about the art business as well as art and design while getting an education in higher education!
  • The same might be said for the organisations offering art and design courses within higher education!
That said, I spotted some signs on the UAL website of changes in tuition offerings in the future......

A new digital future for course delivery

The University of the Arts in London (UAL) is looking to me to be getting up to speed with current thinking around new initiatives for delivering education and courses.

Some of the colleges of the University of London

See the article about Launching 30 Online Courses for Students Worldwide on the University of the Arts London (UAL) website.

from autumn 2021, UAL will open its six famous colleges to students at any life stage anywhere in the world, with a set of 30 online and low-residency degrees. The initiative allows students who currently can’t undertake residential courses to gain a world-class creative education.

The 30 undergraduate and postgraduate courses will be open for application later this summer and will begin in 2021/22 and 2022/23. By 2022-23, 20% of UAL’s Masters offer will be delivered online.

A further 14 standalone course units will start from January 2022. The courses will be taught by established academics at UAL’s colleges - Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts.

I think we're about to enter a whole new age of sustainable art and design education - with sustainable meaning " we can offer what is cost-effective, generates income and makes sense in the long run"

You may also be interested in my website: Art Business Info for Artists


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