• Theatre Workout

Cutting Arts Education Budgets By Half

Updated: May 6


The proposal contradicts itself multiple times. It recognises the great value the arts offer to the UK's society, culture and economy, and the popularity of such courses, yet then seeks to half its funding, which would be detrimental to the industry which, pre-pandemic, was growing five times faster than other sectors of the UK economy!


The latest government figures for 2019 state that the Creative Industries generated £111.7bn for the UK economy, outperforming the Automotive, Aerospace, Oil and Gas, and Life Sciences industries combined by over £30bn.


One can only speculate on the reasons why any government would actively and wilfully seek to cut funding to an industry which has proven to be a significant economic contributor, consistently, for many years, and to a form of education which has proven, profound social and educational benefits to students.


We have grave concerns, that to make such a significant cut to arts funding in Higher Education would pave the way to cuts in arts education funding in the rest of the education system including key stages 1-5 and Further Education, where funding is already low, and subjects like Drama struggle for representation in the National Curriculum.


You can read the proposals and respond to the consultation here.


In addition, there is also a Campaign For The Arts petition you can support here.


To assist you, we have posted our responses below. You are welcome to copy and paste these responses, or adapt them into your own words and add your own opinions. It could take as little as 10 minutes to complete!


Our partners at the Drama & Theatre Education Alliance and the various associations who are members, have also responded, including The Cultural Learning Alliance, SCUDD, National Drama and others. You can also see a response from TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association).


Question 1: To what extent do you agree with the proposal to distribute a greater proportion

of the OfS recurrent grant through the main high-cost subject funding method? (See

paragraphs 15 to 36.)


Strongly disagree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

The proposed distribution unnecessarily damages the future of arts subjects in the UK.

Not only will this proposal negatively impact the future provision of subjects like performing arts, music, fine arts, etc, but it diminishes the ‘value’ of arts subjects to society, our culture, and economy.

The proposals seem to reflect ongoing and historic funding cuts to arts education in mainstream education across key stages 1-5 and further education, seemingly to be part of a systematic cut in funding for this sector, deliberately ignoring evidence from across the economy as to the importance of creative learning both in terms of its value as a sector, and to the value of the vital skills these subjects develop which positively impact other sectors (see for example: https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/publications/skillsqualified-future-quantifying-demand-arts-humanities-social-science/).

Furthermore, there is no evidence that these proposals have been subject to equity impact analysis (e.g. do they negatively affect some institutions, and thus some students, more than others? Do they skew the composition of the creative workforce & thus creative industries? Do they negatively affect public good?)

OfS should, at the very least, retain current funding levels to C1.2 categorised subjects.


Question 2: To what extent do you agree with the proposal to split price group C1 in order

to implement a reduction of 50 per cent to the high-cost subject funding allocated to

subjects in the performing arts; creative arts; media studies and archaeology? (See

paragraphs 15 to 26.)


Strongly disagree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

There are multiple cross-messages in the consultation document, demonstrating increased numbers of student enrolment, higher rates of students with disabilities requiring additional support taking subjects in C1.2, and these subjects value to the economy, without explaining the justification for cutting the funding by 50%.

The creative industries, in the latest pre-Covid figures, generated £111.7bn for the UK economy

(https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uks-creative-industries-contributes-almost-13-million-to-the-ukeconomy-every-hour), outperforming Oil & Gas, Aerospace, Automotive and Life Sciences by over £30bn.

In Feb 2020 the government itself concluded that "the Creative Industries sector is growing more than five times faster than the national economy". 50% funding cuts to these areas demonstrates a wilful attack on an important cultural, economic and socially diverse sector of the UK economy. The proposed distribution will irrevocably damage the future of the creative industries, limit demographic plurality in who accesses arts education and thus who access the arts more broadly. Access to high quality arts education is not equal across the whole of the UK, and as such it doesn't attract as many Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic students studying C1.2 subjects. However,

the solution to this is absolutely not to make more cuts which will further limit the number of students from global majority backgrounds seeking to study these subjects – the cuts will exacerbate the very problem identified in the consultation.

Halving the funding will inevitably lead to closures. A reduction of 49% in funding is entirely inconsistent with the consultation document's acknowledgement of the importance of these fields and with detailed calibration of the costs of delivering them.


Question 3: Notwithstanding your answer to question 2, if we were to split price group C1

as proposed, to what extent do you agree with our approach to implementing this? (See

paragraphs 27 to 28 and Annex B.)


Strongly disagree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

I appreciate there needs to be some way of batching the different subject categories, but this approach seems to take a 'one-size-fits-al' approach, where a more nuanced method is needed.

The praise and respect awarded in paragraphs 22-23 of the consultation document is inconsistent with the proposed 49% funding cuts, placing the OfS in a contradictory position. The proposals are entirely inconsistent with the OfS's own acknowledgements of the value these subjects offer.


Question 4: To what extent do you agree with our approach to counting students from the

Crown Dependencies in our funding allocations for 2021-22? (See paragraphs 34 and 35.)


Tend to agree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

As the effects of BREXIT are gradually being felt, increased connectivity with crown states will be

important in rebuilding bridges and developing relationships, both for future trade and cultural partnerships.

3000 extra students being counted in the statistics is a relatively low number of students to be included.

In terms of C1.2 subjects and the Creative Industries, this sector is highly reliant on international

collaborations, which has helped make the UK's creative sector a world leader. These relationships often tend to start within education.


Question 5: To what extent do you agree with the proposed approach to remove the

targeted allocation for students attending courses in London? (See paragraphs 37 to 48.)


Tend to disagree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

London is a far more costly place to live, work and study. In contrast to this, London is often seen as providing a premium quality of training and career opportunities, and I am concerned that reduced funding for institutions in London may result in recouped costs in other ways, impacting those who already live in the city and do not want to study elsewhere, who would therefore be penalised. I would therefore lean on the side of increased funding for London institutions, but perhaps not to the extent that they are currently funded.


Question 6: To what extent do you agree with the proposed approach to remove London

weighting from the formula-based student premium allocations? (See paragraphs 37 to 48.)


Tend to agree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

If funding were to be more evenly distributed across the UK to ensure a more equal provision of high quality teaching and access to courses, I would support this approach, but with the overall funding cuts proposed for C1.2 subjects, I would be concerned that courses in London will become undeliverable and result in a greater loss of opportunities for training, which would be detrimental to the industry.


Funding to widen access and support successful student outcomes

Question 7: To what extent do you agree with the proposal to provide £40 million to support

Uni Connect activities in 2021-22? (See paragraphs 59 to 63.)


Strongly disagree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

This is a weighted question as it hides a 33% reduction in Uni Connect funding. A part of Uni Connect's focus is to ‘reduce the gap in higher education between the most and least represented groups’ which requires more funding not less. The proposed reduction in Uni Connect funding combined with the proposed funding cuts to arts subjects contradict the stated objectives of Uni Connect.


Question 8: To what extent do you agree with the proposal to distribute an additional £5

million through the existing student premiums in the proportions show in paragraph 65, and

to earmark this £5 million to be spent on student hardship?


Tend to agree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

Extra funding is always beneficial


Question 9: To what extent do you agree with the proposals to distribute £15 million to

address student transition and mental health, through a combination of competition and a

new formula-based student premium? (See paragraphs 67 to 71.)


Tend to agree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

Again, additional funding is always welcome and this funding. However, I would also highlight the benefits to mental health the arts has to offer, which stands as further evidence to support the arts and creative learning, not to significantly reduce funding which will negatively impact an industry severely affected by the pandemic and Brexit.


Other recurrent budget proposals


Question 10: To what extent do you agree with the proposal to maintain in cash terms the

rate of funding for the nursing, midwifery and allied health supplement, which will increase

the total budget to £27 million? (See paragraphs 74 to 75.)


Tend to agree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

These are areas of the health service which are severely lacking and which require support.


Question 11: To what extent do you agree with the proposal to maintain in cash terms the

rate of funding for overseas study programmes, but base the allocation on the higher of

relevant student numbers in either 2019-20 or 2020-21? (See paragraphs 76 to 78.)


Strongly agree


Please provide an explanation for your answer. If you believe our approach should differ, please

explain how and the reason for your view.

International travel, exposure to different cultures and societies, and the opportunity to learn from other nations is a vital part of the education system and should be maintained. However, I do not foresee this being a major part of the next academic year of study with travel restrictions in place long-term, so the caveat to base this on numbers participating in such schemes is welcomed, and I hope any surplus from this fund can be used to support future schemes, or go towards reducing some of the cuts to the C1.2 budget.


Question 12: To what extent do you agree with the proposal to maintain in cash terms the

budgets for other targeted allocations as proposed in paragraph 79?


Tend to agree


Modelling the impact on providers


Question 13: Do you have any comments about any unintended consequences of these

proposals, for example, for particular types of provider or for particular types of students?


I have grave concerns regarding access to training, and for equality among students, and for the future of the creative industries.

Arts subjects are a outlet for many students who do not thrive on STEM and other academic subjects. This includes people with mental health issues, SEN and other learning needs, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds for whom higher education in STEM subjects is not always attainable. To provide equality in the right to education there must be equality in provision, so to discredit, devalue and underfund an entire sector of the eduation system which fuels a thriving and rapidly expanding industry is counterproductive, discriminatory, and will cause more harm than good.

The arts have been consistently underfunded for generations and this proposal to make 49% cuts to HE arts funding will decimate an already sparce provision of HE courses, and sends a clear message to students in lower rungs of the education system that this field is not supported and is not worthy of study.

It makes the statements in the proposal that arts subject are valued and are beneficial to the economy, society and culture insincere and disingenuous.


Terms and conditions of grant for 2021-22


Question 15: To what extent do you agree with the proposed changes to terms and

conditions of grant for 2021-22? (See paragraph 97.)


Tend to agree


You can read the proposals and respond to the consultation here.

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