Petition launched against UK government plans to cut arts higher education funding by half

The Public Campaign for the Arts is urging ministers to reconsider plans that propose “catastrophic” budget reductions to art and design subjects from the next academic year, in favour of “high-value” STEM subjects.

6 May 2021

Advocacy organisation Public Campaign for the Arts has launched a petition calling for the UK government to reconsider plans to cut funding for arts higher education by 50 per cent. Under proposals put forward by the education secretary Gavin Williamson, the budget given to art and design subjects as well as music, drama, dance, performing arts, media studies and archaeology would be cut in half.

Williamson said in a letter to the Office for Students (the independent regulator for higher education) that it 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]”. Arts subjects came under those he deemed “high-cost” and not supportive of the government’s priorities. Williamson added that the government would “potentially seek further reductions in future years”.

Currently each full-time student on an arts course is given £243 in funding from the OFS. The overall teaching grant budget will increase from £1.47bn to £1.48bn next year.

The petition calls for the government to reconsider these plans, and recognise the value of arts subjects in education and society by committing to sustained funding for higher education providers “so they can continue to deliver world-leading arts courses”. At the time this article was written, the petition had been signed by over 66,000 people.

“This is an attack on the future of UK arts, the creative potential of the next generation, and the people who deliver our world-leading arts courses,” the petition states. “Rather than segregating and devaluing the arts in this way, the government should maintain its important investment in creative skills, ensuring that arts courses are widely accessible and properly supported.

“When public backlash caused the government to withdraw its Fatima the ballerina advert, ministers claimed they valued the arts and were ‘here for culture’. If that’s the case, the government must stop this attack on the arts in higher education, value creative skills and fund arts subjects properly.”

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Courtesy of Public Campaign for the Arts, 2021

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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