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Cuts: Arts-Based University Courses Next in Line

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On the day that tens of thousands of students have marched through central London protesting the coalition Government's proposed cut in university funding and rise in tuition fees to a threshold of £9,000 a year, both the National Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Union (UCU) have spoken out against plans to slash funding for teaching. Arts, humanities and social sciences courses look set to bear the brunt of cuts, raising fears that the plans could see some performing arts training institutions loose their funding compeletely.

Although a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said figures suggested by the House of Commons library and reported in The Daily Telegraph on Friday "could not be verified" Universities Minister David Willetts has explained that Band C and D subjects, which would include performing arts subjects, will "essentially lose their teaching grant support".

As part of the Government's Comprehensive Spending review, which also cut Arts Council funding through reductions in the budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Chancellor George Osborne announced teaching budgets for universities would be cut from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion by 2014.

Higher Education institutions which deliver only band C and D courses, including the Royal Academy of Music, Rose Bruford College, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Central School of Speech and Drama could now lose all of their funding, the UCU said. Such institutions would still receive tuition fees from students, with the Government controversially planning to lift the cap on what they can charge from £3,290 to a maximum £9,000 per year, with some strings attached.

Speaking to the BBC about the proposals, David Willetts confirmed that, under proposals drawn up by the former chief executive of BP Lord Browne, the teaching grant for band C and D subjects would be all but wiped out. When pressed he said that the exact size of cuts would "depend on the detailed decisions we take," but he failed to guarantee that there would not be closures.

Aaron Porter, president of NUS speaking to the Evening Standard about the cuts said: "Universities across the country that do not meet the Government's arbitrary definition of usefulness, but nonetheless transform and enrich our economy and society, are to be brutalised."


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