The government will press forward with plans to cut funding for arts courses by 50% in higher educational institutions in England.
Education secretary Gavin Williams justifies the controversial plan, which has faced backlash from artists and higher institutions alike, stating they will save £20m a year.
Williams said: “The Office for Students [OfS] should reprioritise funding towards the provision of high-cost, high-value subjects that support the NHS… high-cost STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering and mathematics].”
The Public Campaign for Arts, whose petition opposing the cuts garnered more than 166,000 signatures, has warned that the cuts jeopardise the viability of art courses, which contribute £111bn per annum to the UK’s economy.
Public Campaign for Arts also fear that the cuts will damage the pipeline of talent from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and discourage those from underprivileged backgrounds pursuing arts degrees. Courses such as music, dance, performing arts, art and design and media studies will be most affected by the cuts.
Ministers have been scolded by artists, with British contemporary artists Bob and Roberta Smith accusing the government of creating a further “divide to society.” Academics have also argued this will lead to elitism in the arts.
A spokesman for the OfS confirmed the 50% decrease in funding but added: “There is no change to how these subjects are treated for other OfS funding streams, such as the additional premiums awarded to universities and colleges to support disadvantaged students.”
However, funding for specialist institutions will increase by £10m to £53m, he added, with additional grants allocated to a number of institutions such as the Royal College of Art in London and the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Words by Saskia Hirst
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