Music is priceless

September 14, 2007

Anna Vignoles ("Surplus in arts may spur shakeout", September 7) believes there will soon be "too many" arts and humanities graduates - primarily because such subjects are less "valued" by employers. Leaving aside the lack of data and the lumping together of all "arts and humanities" subjects, it is perhaps not surprising that an economist should consider something's value only as lying in its financial return, as though studying for a degree is akin to investing in share options.

When I "invest" £40 in a ticket to an opera or rock concert, I do not expect to get my money back, let alone a profit, on leaving. The money grants me an experience that will provide two hours of entertainment and, just occasionally, will stay with me for life.

A degree in the arts and humanities provides not only an experience in itself but instils skills, knowledge and critical capacities that will serve its graduates for the remainder of their lives.

It might surprise Vignoles to learn that while music graduates do very well in the jobs "marketplace" and are sought by a range of employers, many of them, including those paying full fees, report that a love of music and a love of learning are primary factors in their electing to "purchase" their degree with us. Music students clearly have a more nuanced conception of "value". Perhaps we have a surplus of economists!

Giles Hooper
School of Music, Liverpool University

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