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Graduates Share Their Concerns About The Devastating Impact of Government Funding Cuts to HE Arts and Music Subjects

This summer, the MU asked musicians and other arts workers what the 50% cut to Government funding for Higher Education arts and music subjects means to them.

Published: 25 August 2021 | 2:13 PM Updated: 01 August 2023 | 1:10 PM
Photograph of a young man singing into a microphone, while another person mans the recording station, a drum kit is also visible in the background
"“Investing in the creative sectors is an investment that pays back economically as well as for the future health of the people in this country." Photo credit: Stocksy

Many shared their experiences studying arts and music subjects at university – and the difference it made in their lives.

“My university does not have the budget”

One student told us about how the lack of funding for creative subjects had already directly affected them, and predicted how much worse it could get if the cuts became more severe:

“As a creative arts student I have had to spend a large sum of money over the years due to the fact my university does not have the budget or funding for us and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much worse it could get for students. I personally was unable to move out and experience true university life as I physically would be unable to afford it due to the amount of extra cost it takes to study an arts subject.

“Ask anyone to try and live without the things these students/industries produce for a month and see how long they would survive without suffering. The fact students of these fields are looked down upon is disgusting.

“Less budget for the proposed subjects would have a huge negative impact not just on the universities but the students and the industries. If universities (especially those of the arts) have less budget they will have to turn to dropping courses and cutting class sizes, meaning there would be less students able to study these subjects.

“It also means fewer students with disabilities and mental health struggles able to study. This could destroy people’s opportunities to be able to find roles they can fit in, in the working world leading to higher levels of unemployment.

“Alongside this universities would have even more struggles when it comes to providing adequate support, facilities and resources resulting in higher costs for students.

“More and more students are choosing not to continue studying at higher levels and this will be of particular significance for students of lower-income and underprivileged households/areas.

“Fewer students mean fewer graduates. Fewer graduates means fewer people able to fill job spaces in the creative industries. The creative industries aren’t 50% less important than other subjects so why are they being treated that way.”

“One of the best things is the massive diversity in the music department”

Another student praised the diversity on their course, pointing out the fundamental change that the budget cuts would bring about:

“One of the best things about Huddersfield University where I am currently a PhD candidate is the massive diversity in the music department.

“The atmosphere has always been very vibrant and lively. It's a place where someone with a working class background like me can feel at home and at ease studying, learning, sharing. How many of those students will still be able to study there?

“This funding cut will fundamentally change the whole university and just doesn't make sense.

“Investing in the creative sectors is an investment that pays back economically as well as for the future health of the people in this country. Fewer arts activities, fewer artists means that everyone suffers. Short sighted decisions like this come to be regretted bitterly later.”

“With the knowledge I have gained I am able to make a difference”

And another student considered the serious impact that having to shorten the length of their course would have had on them:

“The music degree I studied at university was subjected to funding cuts the year after I graduated. The course was cut from a four year BMus (Hons) to a three year BA.

“Four years of study felt like just enough time to gain the confidence and skills needed to work in the music industry. The reduction to only three years of study, and yet the expectation to give a final recital to the same high standard, would have left me significantly under-prepared for the world I was about to step into.

“My undergraduate music degree led me into two postgraduate degrees in instrumental teaching.

“With the knowledge I have gained on these courses I am able to make a difference not just to the everyday lives of children in school, but also the mental health of adults who use their music lessons as form of escape from reality.”

This is Government levelling down, not up

Of the close to 300 people who responded:

  • 99% told us they are “very worried” or “worried” about the Government funding cut’s impact on working class access and representation
  • 98% are “very worried” or “worried” about its impact on the creative industries
  • 97% are “very worried” or “worried” about its impact on the music industry

Moreover, 96% of respondents told us they felt the funding cut was not in line with the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

Arts education needs more funding, not less

Despite massive opposition from musicians, artists and trade unions, the planned 50% cut to Government funding was confirmed in July.

Levelling up can’t be achieved through the redistribution of existing funds, because those funds are already not enough. Arts education needs more funding, not a fight over the little that currently exists.

Explore more information on the Government’s proposed 50% funding cut to music at Higher Education level.

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