Arts suffer a 19% cash gap

May 14, 2004

Humanities and social science subjects are on average underfunded by a fifth as is teacher training, according to a government report.

The report points to a 19 per cent gap between what it costs universities to fund subjects such as English, history, sociology, law and business studies and what they receive from the state in grants and from tuition fees.

The funding gap is revealed in a report prepared by JM Consulting for the Department for Education and Skills, and has been eagerly anticipated by many university heads.

According to the DFES, the final report was submitted in February. Yet the department waited until April 29 to post the document on its research website.

The delay has prompted speculation that the DFES wanted to hang on to the report until after the deadline for bids to this summer's government spending review so it could prioritise funding for schools.

A spokeswoman for Universities UK, which has bid for £8.8 billion in the spending review, said: "We are pleased that the report has finally been released."

JM Consulting researched the funding gap in humanities and social sciences as a means of measuring comparatively the 21 per cent gap in teacher-training funding.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England this week confirmed that it is the first time the 19 per cent figure has come to light.

Hefce has started its own review of teaching costs. It will use the Transparent Approach to Costing (Trac) methodology used by JM Consulting.

The DFES report puts the difference between cost and core funding for initial teacher training at more than £1,000 per student.

Mary Russell, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "We had been asking the department for months when this was to appear. The question is why any institution should continue to run ITT."

Sixteen universities and colleges, offering teacher training, were surveyed by JM Consulting. All subsidise their provision in this area and some have considered dropping teacher training because of the costs.

Bernadette Porter, rector of the University of Surrey Roehampton, which subsidises its ITT courses, said: "The government is trying to get teachers on the cheap."

John Furlong, director of the department of educational studies at Oxford University, said: "I knew teacher training was underfunded but I thought the 19 per cent figure for non-laboratory subjects was staggering."

The report stresses that the 19 per cent gap applies only to the 14 subjects it surveyed across the 16 institutions.

A spokesman for the DFES said ministers would consider the findings over the coming months.

alan.thomson@thes.co.uk

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