Statement from Caroline Norbury OBE, Chief Executive, Creative UK, on UK government’s plans to limit student numbers

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Every student undertaking higher education should expect that their investment and hard work will be rewarded with the knowledge, skills and earning potential needed to build a sustainable and fulfilling career. On this position, we and the UK government are absolutely aligned. However, at Creative UK we have long warned of the risks of assessing the value of courses on metrics that are too narrow to accurately or fairly reflect the success of the UK’s talented creative graduates. 

Studying creative subjects develops the finely-tuned cognitive skills that are increasingly sought after by employers across all industries. What’s more, those graduating with creative degrees do experience career progression at least equal to STEM graduates, over the first decade of work. In its recent Creative Industries Sector Vision announcement, the UK government pledged to grow the creative sector by £50 billion and create 1 million new creative jobs by 2030. We are deeply concerned that plans to cap student numbers for certain courses will introduce significant barriers to achieving these ambitions. 

Today’s creative industries contribute £108 billion to the UK economy, but we are already facing a crippling skills shortage, with creative roles currently representing nearly a third of the government’s own shortage occupation list. By introducing further restrictions to accessing meaningful creative education, our talent pipeline will only constrict further, limiting the creative industries’ potential to drive economic growth, job creation and innovation.  

We ask the UK government to introduce broader metrics for assessing graduate outcomes and quality of course provisions. These should vary based on subject areas and the requirements of the industries they are designed to feed qualified talent into, while also factoring in whole career earnings potential, skills shortages, societal benefits, and future facing needs. The metrics must give Higher Education providers a clear framework within which to deliver this more nuanced definition of course quality, so that they may also be held to account by regulators if they fall short. This approach will ensure we can produce a strong and diverse creative workforce equipped with the skills needed to support UK growth and unlock the opportunities of the future.”

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