Lower priority music provision faces 50% cut in Higher Education funding

The UK Government proposes a 50% cut in funding to music students in Higher Education in England.

  Music provision is a "lower priority" according to the proposal

The UK Government has revealed that it proposes that funding for Higher Education courses in England which it says "...are not among its strategic priorities — covering subjects in music, dance, drama and performing arts "are to be subject to a reduction of 50%".

Lower priority

The details were confirmed in a 51 page document entitled 'Consultation on recurrent funding for 2021-22', issued by the Office for Students (OfS) based on a statutory guidance letter written by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

It states that while the Government wants, "provision in those subject areas to continue to be widely available," it says that it believes, "they are nevertheless lower priority for OfS funding than other high-cost subjects."

A consultation process has now been put in place which runs to 6th May 2021. Anyone with an interest in finance for those in higher education can respond to the proposals at:



In responding to the news, which it said had been given at far too short of notice, the Musicians Union stated that the proposed funding cut would be "catastrophic for music provision at HE level", adding that it would affect, "our members' work, the financial viability of music courses, and training for the next generation of musicians and music professionals."

The document from the Office of Students states that the Government is giving an extra £11 million to its recurrent grant for the year 2021-22 to £1,330 million.

However, it goes on to say that it has "to support a significant increase in student numbers that has been reported for the 2020-21 academic year, as well as some further additions expected for the 2021-22 academic year.

This means that there is a reduction to the average funding that we are able to provide per full-time equivalent student."

50% reduction

It is revealed that this in turn will see funding increases of up to 12% for subjects such as high-cost science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and/or specific labour market needs, whilst a 50% reduction in courses that "are not among its strategic priorities"- covering music, dance, drama and performing arts alongside art and design, media studies and archaeology.

Overall funding for these subjects will decrease from £36 million to £19 million.

whilst the Government wants, "provision in those subject areas to continue to be widely available", it says that it believes, "they are nevertheless lower priority for OfS funding than other high-cost subjects."4BR

Fulfilling experience

The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England that it says "aims to ensure every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers."

Their regulatory objectives include ensuring that students "receive a high quality academic experience, and their interests are protected while they study or in the event of provider, campus or course closure; are able to progress into employment or further study; their qualifications hold their value over time, and, they receive value for money."

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