Hefce is urged to retune music

February 21, 2003

Music conservatoire heads have called on the Higher Education Funding Council for England to coordinate efforts to widen access to their courses.

The plea comes in response to a report published last autumn. The report, commissioned by Hefce and researched by the National Foundation for Youth Music, says that conservatoires should be doing more to recruit black and Asian teenagers from inner cities, and that they need to broaden their curriculums to produce musicians for the modern music industry.

Hefce has been waiting until the publication of the higher education white paper to decide what to do about the report's recommendations.

It said it had agreed to convene a meeting of some of the key players in music higher education "to identify possible case studies highlighting the existing good practice that might be disseminated".

But conservatoire heads believe that more may need to be done to reach out to young people at an earlier age, and to provide more opportunities for study and training through partnerships between institutions.

Colin Beeson, vice-principal of the Royal Northern College of Music, said Hefce needed to be involved as a coordinating agency "so that we can get some joined-up thinking about what is provided pre and post-18".

Widening participation in music education could not be tackled by the conservatoires alone, he said. "It is true that if you want to be a rock guitarist, for instance, there are few opportunities. But there is a limit to how far an institution like ours can widen and expand," he said.

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