Outraged is probably the only word that could be used to describe my current state of mind. The only word to describe my current state of mind as I discover that not only does the government wish to bump up our tuition fees to a colossal £10,000 a year but that they are also simultaneously cutting funding to the faculty I care most dearly about, humanities.
I am an English Literature student who also studied History and Philosophy in my first year, so my whole academic life has been fully submerged in the humanities department. Are the government now saying that everything that I learnt, all the work I put in was pointless; the lectures and tutors I was taught by and respected are of no worth to our country as a whole? How demoralising and frankly offensive to not only me but also a large majority of students in the UK.
Cuts need to be made somewhere and the government find it all too easy to pick on the arts. Arts and humanities aren’t crucial to day-to-day survival in the same way that a roof over our heads and food on the table is. The government’s argument is that those who study maths or science based subjects are more employable in the current climate and give more back to the country and its economy.
However I say that the humanities, besides being a vital element of our culture, also gives students of the subject the key skills which they can then apply to scientific or business industries. Although your vast knowledge of Shakespeare’s sonnets will never be applicable to anything more that looking clever at a dinner party or for winning the pub quiz, the way in which you were taught to analyse, break down and research the poem and poet can be taken and applied to any industry or subject matter. In a recent debate Lord Mandelson almost mirrored my words saying that he “would be very disappointed if people saw it in that way. There is public value in every subject and academic discipline provided by universities. They are there to provide us with both civilization and competitiveness.
“So I ask why, when many people are opposed to the cuts, are humanities being targeted and not the sciences? I thought the cuts were supposed to be fair, but as far as I can see creating 10% more places in the science and math departments and then proposing £600m worth of cuts to be made before 2013 in humanities, it is completely the opposite. The future is not looking bright for our culture.
Cuts have already began in some universities, such as the 35% cut to funding for the University of Arts in London and outside of university cuts have devastated the world of British cinema with many predicting that the independent British film industry will be dead or nearly none existent within a few short years.
I am not alone in thinking this, I’m sure students across the country are outraged and many have already protested against the cuts and closures within their departments. Fighting on the same team are numerous arts institutions and academics within humanities departments nationwide, a number of them wrote a letter opposing the cuts that was subsequently published in the Observer. They stress the importance of humanities as a key aspect of British life, our intellectual history and the impression of Britain given to the rest of the world, “Even in narrow economic terms it must be wrong to neglect the importance of the creative economy and the importance of a rich and vibrant museums, galleries and cultural sector for tourism.” These are the words written by those in the know, the experts in their field, so why is the government ignoring their suggestion that major cuts to humanities funding could seriously damaging the county, our culture and our history.