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I am seriously concerned about the Government’s decision to cut funding for music and arts courses at the Higher Education (HE) level in England by 50%, and the consultation process run by the Office for Students.
The consultation only includes one question on the proposed 50% funding cut to music and arts courses. A 50% funding cut is a significant and damaging change with huge repercussions for higher education institutions, students, and the creative industries. It should have been given its own consultation, not wrapped into a broad and general funding consultation.
The consultation includes questions on many different issues. This means that each response could generate a lot of information that is not relevant to music and the arts, potentially causing confusion and watering down the serious concerns that respondents may wish to express.
The consultation has been poorly publicised. It opened on 26 March but the organisations in the music sector such as the Musicians’ Union, which represents over 30,000 musicians, were only made aware of it in late April. Universities and other sector organisations were also unaware of the consultation until recently. We object to such an important consultation being undertaken without fair notice given to students, lecturers, universities, employers, creative sector organisations, heritage sector organisations, and trade unions.
Taken together, these give the impression that the Government and the Office for Students do not want stakeholders’ views or care about the creative industries, which are worth £102bn to the UK economy.
[Share your thoughts on the consultation, why you believe arts subjects including music are essential, and how your arts education at a conservatoire, university or college has helped you]
As the Office for Students, I would like you to:
- Explain why the proposed funding cut to music and arts subjects has not been given its own consultation.
- Give the proposed funding cuts to music and arts subjects its own consultation, and recommend holding all funding cuts until that can take place.
- Make sure that the consultation process is transparent and actively invite submissions from all stakeholders including students, universities, employers, music sector organisations, and trade unions.