Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, asked four questions to Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan. The questions inquired into the number of educators teaching arts and design courses, what proportion of the budget is spent on the arts and design sector, the merits of arts and design courses and the potential impact of a reduction in funding for courses in arts and design.
The government’s full response is below:
Arts and Design: Higher Education
Department for Education
2 July 2021
Mr Barry Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an estimate of the projected number of educators teaching arts and design courses employed in the Higher Education sector in the next five years.
Mr Barry Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what proportion of his Department’s budget is spent on supporting the arts and design sector.
Mr Barry Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an estimate of the potential impact of the planned reduction in funding for arts and design courses on student intake numbers for those courses in the Higher Education sector in the next five years.
Mr Barry Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of increased funding for arts and design in the Higher Education sector.
Michelle Donelan: This government values and supports the arts throughout the education system. For example, we have invested over £620 million from 2016-21 in a diverse portfolio of arts and music education programmes to ensure all children, whatever their background, have access to a high-quality education in arts and music.
This government also supports substantial provision for creative arts in the higher education sector. In 2020-21, £690 million of Strategic Priorities Grant funding (then referred to as the Teaching Grant) was provided, via the Office for Students (OfS), for high-cost subject funding which includes art and design courses. A further £43 million of Strategic Priorities Grant funding was provided to specialist providers including top music and arts institutions. Further information on provider-level allocations can be found within the OfS’s guide to funding for 2020-21, available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/publications/guide-to-funding-2020-21/ and https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/funding-forproviders/annual-funding/technical-guidance-and-funding-data/ in the document ‘2020-21 Sector tables (October 2020)’.
The government has asked the OfS to reform the Strategic Priorities Grant for 2021- 22. These reforms include the reallocation of high-cost subject funding towards the provision of high-cost subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost science, technology and engineering subjects, and subjects meeting specific labour market needs. We have considered the impact of the reforms, which can be found in the annex in the guidance letter, sent by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, to the OfS on 19 January. The OfS had also published their modelling of impacts alongside their recent consultation document on 2021-22 funding.
One of our proposals is for a 50% reduction in the rate of high-cost subject funding, which is one element of the wider Strategic Priorities Grant, for some subjects in order to enable this reprioritisation. It is important to note that the Strategic Priorities Grant accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total income of higher education providers today. For the providers losing funding due to this reallocation, the income lost would account for approximately 0.05% of their estimated total income, based on the latest data available.
As part of the same reform programme, we have asked the OfS to invest an additional £10 million in our world-leading specialist providers, many of which specialise in arts provision. We want to ensure that our specialist providers receive additional support, and that grant funding is used to effectively support students.
The OfS have publicly consulted on these proposals, and responses from universities, students and others will be taken into account before any final decisions on 2021-22 allocations are made. Decisions on future funding will be made in light of the Spending Review.
Higher education providers are autonomous bodies, independent from government. As such, they are responsible for their own admissions decisions. They are also responsible for their own decisions on staffing. They should make these decisions according to their own operational needs and the needs of their wider staff and student community.