This week the UK government decided to lash out at prospective students and the paths they choose, threatening to withdraw funding for certain subjects, deemed ‘Mickey Mouse Courses’. What?! I know. I can’t.
Firstly, they were hesitant to specify what these courses actually are – instead leaning into the narrative that attendance, demand, and prospective career/salary was what would inform these decisions. So while it’s not certain yet which courses will make the cut and be deemed ‘valuable’, it’s never been much of a secret that the government devalues the arts and creative subjects.
As if the arts hadn’t already been so monopolised by the very wealthy.
So, the fate of future students who are not able to fund their own degree education (aka the working class folk) lies in the hands of many old, white middle class men (with a few women and POCs sprinkled in there).
How do you think they’ll decide?
Well, we know History is safe as it’s such a popular degree choice of the Eton boys who currently star in lead roles in the pantomime known as the House of Commons. Classics, studied by PM Boris Johnson – obviously also a valuable course. Land Management – they love that one; Journalism – perhaps; Theology… if we’re protecting all random courses studied by our MPs.
Given how things change over the years and the need for various jobs ebbs and flows, it might be prudent to take a look at the past couple of years – how the pandemic changed things. It goes without saying that medical and scientific courses are essential. Though our PM tried to pay those workers with claps and declined to raise their salary in favour of making more money himself. That’s definitely a mixed signal there. It’s unclear how they might be able to pay back their student loans with pitiful claps. And that was the origin of this problem, right? People aren’t paying back their student loans so we need to stop giving loans out and funding courses where people don’t earn enough. That’s what it boils down to. So maybe pay the nurses more money so they can give back that loan, and probably pay the Eton boys less? Seems like an obvious solution.
Optometry is also a vital course to protect, so that MPs are not forced to break lockdown laws and drive for miles to test their vision. Everyone needs access to proper eye tests.
All of the obvious essential roles (we love you!) aside, who else did we turn to in that global time of need?
Television shows and movies made by actors, directors, writers, makers, builders, designers, lighting and sound technicians… I mean, you’ve seen the credits roll – the list is LONG.
Music and online performances kept us alive in those moments we needed encouragement or cheering up as we sat indoors waiting for the storm to pass. Books, puzzles, and games kept our minds active while social interaction was limited.
We invited online creators into our homes to teach us, motivate us, train us, and entertain us. Everything from virtual cooking demos and exercise classes to quizzes and gigs.
So, all things considered, the arts should be safe. Just look at the value they have on our lives; they lift us up when we face life’s darkest and most troubling times. No brainer. And at least the Member of Parliament for North Thanet should be fighting for the arts after finishing his education at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
But hey, if the worst happens, it all worked out for Fatima who retrained in Cyber Security – remember?