Letter to The Times

My letter to The Times, written jointly with the heads of University for the Creative Arts and Norwich University of the Arts, was published on 1 December 2014. The full text is below.


An increase in supply is usually taken as proof of demand, with claims of better quality by the new supplier taken with a pinch of salt. And yet your article (“We are in danger of having a generation of trust-fund artists”, 26 November 2014) asks us to believe the reverse in the case of art school.

As some of the world’s oldest art schools, we are glad that newcomers such as Open School East are adding to our number. British creative education is in high demand and we have no doubt of their success. If they see a niche in painting or drawing, or offer reduced fees in order to compete, so much the better.

But their emergence is no excuse to claim that we are only educating the rich or have forgotten about fine art.

Thanks to huge investment in widening participation, our UK students now broadly reflect the country’s socio-economic make-up, even four years after the fees increase. Fine art, ceramics and jewellery courses have not been cleared to make way for new technologies — tradition and innovation exist side by side.

There are genuine threats to art school for you to sound the alarm about, such as the government’s incoherent funding policy for education. The absence of oil paint is not among them.


Nigel Carrington,  Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London
Simon Ofield-Kerr, Vice-Chancellor, University for the Creative Arts
Professor John Last, Vice-Chancellor, Norwich University of the Arts

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