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Arts: Higher Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL1073, tabled on 20 June 2022

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of budget cuts on access to Higher Education arts courses on (1) the UK's economy, and (2) those from (a) lower socio-economic, and (b) minority, backgrounds.

Answered on

4 July 2022

The government recognises the importance of the creative arts to the economy and the UK. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce and our public services. It is also culturally enriching for our society, which is why the government awarded nearly £8million directly to creative universities as part of the Culture Recovery Fund.

The Office for Students (OfS) has increased the high-cost subject funding rate per student for performing and creative arts and media studies to £125.76, a rise of 3.51% from the previous year, for the 2022/23 academic year. The department has also increased funding for world-leading specialist providers, including 11 providers specialising in the arts, by an additional £5 million in the 2022/23 financial year, on top of the increase of £10 million provided in the 2021/22 financial year. The department wants to ensure that such providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used effectively to support students, including those with an interest in the cultural and creative sectors.

In January 2021, the former Secretary of State for Education reprioritised the Strategic Priorities Grant (SPG). This was to ensure value for money, support strategic priorities across the sector, including provision of courses vital for the economy and labour markets, and continued support for disadvantaged students and underrepresented groups. This resulted in the high-cost subject funding rate for some arts and music courses to be set at £121.50, down from £243 in 2020/21. This reallocation of grant funding amounted to about 0.05% of affected providers’ estimated total income.

The OfS consulted on the proposals and published its conclusions on their website. The consultation responses were carefully analysed. The issues raised were considered by both the OfS and the former Secretary of State in reaching their respective decisions about the allocation of the SPG in 2021/22.

The department considers that access to higher education should be based on a student’s attainment and their ability to succeed, rather than their background. In 2021, 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds were 82% more likely to go to university than in 2010. There are also more disadvantaged students at university today than at any other point in our history.