To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of funding cuts to the high cost subsidy for creative arts courses at universities on the viability of these courses; and what steps they are taking to ensure equal access to creative arts courses in all educational settings.
19 August 2021
In January 2021, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education asked the Office for Students to reform the Strategic Priorities Grant for the academic year 2021/22 in order to ensure value for money and to support strategic priorities across the sector as well as disadvantaged students and under-represented groups.
The Office for Students ran a consultation on this matter and has recently published its conclusions. The responses to the consultation were carefully analysed, and the issues raised were considered by both the Office for Students and the Secretary of State in reaching their respective decisions about the allocation of the Strategic Priorities Grant in 2021/22.
These reforms include the reallocation of high-cost subject funding, which is one element of the Strategic Priorities Grant, towards the provision of high-cost subjects which support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost science, technology and engineering subjects, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs. As a result, the total funding for high-cost subjects such as medicine and engineering is 12% (£81 million) higher than last year. The high-cost subject funding rate for arts and music courses will be set at £121.50 in 2021/22 – the fall from 2020/21 is equivalent to a reduction of around 1% in combined funding (on a per-student basis) from a £9,250 tuition fee and Office for Students grant funding.
The government continues to value arts and social science subjects. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services, as well as being intellectually rewarding and culturally enriching for those studying them and wider society.
As part of the same reform programme, we have asked the Office for Students to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that such providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used effectively to support students.
The Office for Students continually monitors and assesses financial health in the higher education sector, working closely with any provider that shows increased risk of financial difficulties. The latest Office for Students report on the financial sustainability of higher education providers in England showed that the overall financial position of universities, colleges, and other higher education providers registered with the Office for Students across the higher education sector remains sound, with reasonable financial resilience.