(Sally Weale’s article appeared in the Guardian, 7/20; Photo: The education secretary, Gavin Williamson. Arts groups have warned cuts would affect the viability of some courses at universities, leading to possible closures. Photograph: Tayfun Salcı/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock.)

Education secretary Gavin Williamson says money will be put towards Stem and medicine courses

Ministers have been accused of “one of the biggest attacks on arts and entertainment in English universities in living memory” after proposals to cut funding for arts and creative subjects in higher education were confirmed by the universities regulator.

When the planned cuts emerged earlier this year, artists and musicians launched a campaign to fight the proposals, accusing the government of neglecting the country’s “cultural national health” by pursuing what they described as “catastrophic” funding cuts to arts subjects at universities.

The controversial reforms affect a specific funding stream which is directed at high-cost subjects in higher education and will result in money being taken away from creative arts subjects, while more is invested in other high-cost subjects, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem), medicine and healthcare, in line the government’s priorities.

The Public Campaign for the Arts warned the cuts would threaten the viability of arts courses in universities, leading to possible closures, which would in turn damage the pipeline of talent leading from higher education into the creative industries, which are worth £111bn a year to the UK economy. Courses affected include music, dance, performing arts, art and design and media studies.

The cuts will halve the high-cost funding subsidy for creative and arts subjects from the start of the next academic year. The universities regulator for England, the Office for Students (OfS) insisted the reduction was only equivalent to about 1% of the combined course fee and OfS funding, but campaigners said together with other cuts the impact would be devastating.

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