The Public Campaign for the Arts are leading the charge against proposed 50% funding cut to art-based subjects in higher education

  • Arts-based subjects not deemed important by Gavin Williams as 'courses are not among  stategic priorities'
  • Estimated that in  '21-22 year only 19m will be given to support arts-based HE subjects
  • Creative industries contributed more than £111bn to the UK economy in 2018



The Public Campaign for the Arts are condemning the government’s plan to cut 50% of funding for the arts in higher education.

The government plans to create a new separate category called ‘C1.2 subjects’ – for music, dance, drama and performing arts, art and design, media studies, and archaeology. 

Subjects in this new category will then have their ‘high-cost subject funding’ halved.

This means that £19m instead of £36m will be given to support arts and creative courses in England for 2021-22, a reduction of £17m.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson issued guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) which distributes funding to higher education providers in England.

The Public Campaign for the Arts aims to increase participation, investment and diversity within the arts. They also promote the social, mental and economical benefits that taking part in art provides.

The group has started a petition to protect the arts by stressing the contribution these subjects make to education and society. 

They argue that the need for sustained high-cost funding is essential for higher education providers such as universities, so they can continue to deliver world-leading arts courses.

More than 158,000 people, spanning every Parliamentary constituency in the UK, have told @GavinWilliamson that #ArtsEducationMatters.

Stop planned 50% cut to arts subjects in HE
Recognise the value of the arts
Commit to sustained funding for arts courseshttps://t.co/3bvRTowTjU

The campaign launched in June 2020 and nhas over 200,000 registered supporters, pointing to increased public concern for the future of UK arts and culture.

It successfully petitioned the Government to introduce the Culture Recovery Fund to help protect cultural organisations from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a press release, the stated: “Before the pandemic, the creative industries were growing five times faster than the UK economy as a whole and generating over £111 billion a year. We risk losing these benefits without proper support for the creative skills underpinning them.”

The OfS, in response to the criticism of the government on social media, said: “The proposed reduction relates to a much smaller subsidy that is currently provided by the OfS, designed to help universities and colleges deliver subjects that are expensive to teach. For arts subjects, this subsidy currently works out at around £243 per full-time student per year. 

(This) is paid to universities and colleges, not given directly to students. Under the proposals, this subsidy would be reduced by 50 percent to £121.50 per student per year – equivalent to a reduction of around 1 percent of the combined tuition fee and OfS funding.”

They would increase funding between £42m to £53m , benefiting a range of arts institutions in England including drama schools, conservatories, art schools and music colleges.

Manchester is home to several art-based HE institutons, including the Manchester’s School of Art, the BIMM Institute and RNCM.

OFS added: “Our funding budget will have to stretch further in the coming years with significant growth forecast in student numbers – particularly in courses that are more expensive to teach (we have already seen significant increases in applications to nursing and medicine courses this year).”

There is fear from the campaigners that: “(the decision) will affect all students, but particularly those from less privileged backgrounds who may rely on being able to access courses locally or through institutions that cannot divert funds from elsewhere to save their music and arts programmes at short notice.”

Currently there are 160,927 signatures for the petition and donations can be made on their website.