UK cuts humanities course supports by 50 percent to favor science and medicine

Protests in the United Kingdom over the government's decision to cut funding for university courses in arts, humanities, and humanities by 50 percent and divert it to science and medicine.

A decision that is causing much debate in the United Kingdom: the government has in fact decided to cut funding for university courses in the arts, humanities, and humanities by 50 percent, with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson saying that the savings will be used to fund medical and science courses. The decision had been announced earlier this year, and artists and intellectuals had also launched a campaign asking the government to reconsider, because such a devastating cut would be an attack on the “cultural health of the nation.” The path, however, is mapped out: the money previously earmarked for humanities subjects will be invested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects, because these are the government’s priorities.

According to the promoters of the Public Campaign for the Arts, or the campaign calling for a review of the cuts (and which has received more than 150,000 signatures at the moment), many humanities courses could be closed and, as the Guardian reports, this would also be a huge damage to the UK ’s creative industries, which bring £111 billion to the country’s economy every year.

The reason for the cuts is that courses in art, design, music and the like would not be strategic in the midst of a pandemic, according to the British government. The news is back in the news because last Tuesday, July 20, theOffice for Students, the body that regulates the British university system, confirmed the cuts for 2021-2022, writing sharply, in black and white in a statement, that “high-cost subjects that are not related to medicine, health, STEM subjects or that do not support specific labor market needs will be subject to funding reductions from next year.” The cuts are 50 percent: “for the subjects where the reductions will be applied,” the memo further states, “grants will be reduced from 243 pounds per student per year to 121.50.” In total, the cuts will bring the current 36 million pounds of funding down to 19. “These changes,” Secretary Williamson said in a memo, “will ensure that increased grants are directed toward channels that support key industries and the delivery of vital public services, reflecting priorities that have emerged in light of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Office for Students defends the choice by saying that the reduction corresponds to about 1 percent of total direct funding to universities and colleges, a sum that amounts to 1.4 billion pounds, but for humanities courses it is still a large figure, and protests are also being raised in academia. “This drastic cut in funding for the creative arts,” said Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, “is one of the biggest attacks on arts and entertainment in English universities in living memory. It will be extremely damaging to access, creating geographic areas without these courses, because they will become impractical.”

Photo: the Meadow Building, home to one of Oxford University’s colleges

UK cuts humanities course supports by 50 percent to favor science and medicine
UK cuts humanities course supports by 50 percent to favor science and medicine

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