Arts and Music: Higher Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 15th June 2021.

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Photo of William Wragg William Wragg Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what level of funding he plans to allocate for higher education courses in music and arts.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

The Strategic Priorities Grant plays an important role in supporting providers and students to develop the skills and knowledge needed locally, regionally, and nationally to support the economy.

The government has asked the Office for Students (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, as well as the removal of the London Weighting element of the grant.

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.

Under current proposals, outlined in the OfS’ consultation on recurrent funding for 2021-22, the high-cost subject funding rate for arts and music courses will be set at £121.50 in 2021-22, down from £243 in 2020-21. This fall is equivalent to a reduction of around 1% in combined funding (on a per-student basis) from a £9,250 tuition fee and OfS grant funding. The OfS’ methodology for calculating funding allocations, which are done at subject price group-level rather than on an individual subject basis, means that the total amount of high-cost subject funding cannot be calculated for individual subjects such as music.

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.

This important reprioritisation of taxpayers’ money does not mean this government is devaluing the arts or social sciences. High-quality provision in a range of subjects is critical for our workforce, and our public services, and is culturally enriching for our society.

That is why, 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 has now publicly consulted on these proposals, and responses from universities, students and others will be taken into account before any final decisions on allocations are made.

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