Fears of higher tuition fees based on ‘underestimated’ arts

Arts in action: The Leeds event aims to show just how valuable the arts and humanities are to the economy.
Arts in action: The Leeds event aims to show just how valuable the arts and humanities are to the economy.
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Could students soon be paying higher

university course fees based on expected earnings in their given subject? Neil Hudson reports.

CONCERNS some universities could soon charge more for fees based on data which shows graduates in certain degrees earn more than those in others have been voiced.

An event aimed at countering the assumption that humanities students earn less and arguing for the wide value of humanities study will take place in Leeds next week.

Hosted by Leeds Beckett University and subsequently shown on their Youtube channel, it aims to show how important humanities research is.

Professor Susan Watkins, director of the Centre for Culture and the Arts at the university, said: “The possibility fees for particular degree subjects might be tied to graduate earnings might appear to disadvantage traditional arts and humanities disciplines like English literature, history, art and media in comparison with science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“In fact, given the creative industries generated £71.4 billion per year for the UK economy, investment in the arts and humanities is paying off for someone. Setting aside the economic value, surely there are some other reasons why arts and humanities matter?”

The possibility fees for particular degree subjects might be tied to graduate earnings might appear to disadvantage traditional arts and humanities disciplines like English literature, history, art and media in comparison with science, technology, engineering and mathematics

Prof Susan Watkins, from Leeds Beckett University

The ‘Future of the Humanities’ day will take place at the Tetley, the former headquarters of the Tetley Brewery on July 4.

The aim of the event, which runs from 9.30am until 7.15pm, is to show how important humanities research is.

Prof Watkins went on: “There’s certainly a feeling in the higher echelons of government the value of education can be measured by what graduates earn. The idea would be to look at certain kinds of data and then link that with where people studied and use that to make judgements about particular university courses.”

Such data might eventually form part of the Government’s planned Teaching Excellence Framework, which was announced as part of its 2016 Higher Education White Paper, which aims to give students greater information when choosing courses and also shift the onus of teaching being solely based on academic research, as it is now, by also rewarding outstanding and engaging teachers in their own right.

Keynote speakers at the event include Professor Eleonora Belfiore (University of Loughborough), Professor Sarah Churchwell (School of Advanced Study, University of London) and Professor Donald Drakeman (University of Notre Dame, USA). Their talks will address: public funding of the arts and the arguments used to justify it in a public policy context; how to build public confidence in the crucial role humanities research plays in sustaining and strengthening our society; and the surprising influence of humanities scholarship on biomedical research and civil liberties.

Professor Watkins added: “This event is a must for all those involved in the arts and humanities: whether at policy level, as academics and practitioners or just as interested members of the general public. We are delighted to be working with two great partners: the publisher Palgrave Macmillan and the Tetley.

“Palgrave is one of the largest supporters of scholarly humanities research via its Campaign for the Humanities and this event celebrates a year of our working together.”

The event includes a range of interactive workshop sessions led by academics and representatives at Palgrave Macmillan and the Tetley, including a creative writing workshop, introductions to the digital and economic humanities and diversity in the humanities. There will also be the opportunity for private tours of the Tetley gallery.

Places are free and should be booked at: www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/events/faculty-events/humanities

Students Hanyi Jin, Beth Arscott, Amarjit Singh, and Kate Stevens in the exhibtion space.

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