Russell Group puts arts on equal footing

Top universities scrap "preferred" subjects list

Top universities have ended their discrimination against some arts subjects at A level.

The Russell Group which represents the UK’s 24 leading universities, has scrapped its list of "preferred’" A-level subjects which it included in its criteria for admissions.

The group says it will no longer publish its facilitating subjects list, which had comprised eight traditional academic subjects and was the basis for the government’s promotion of the Ebacc in schools.

The list had been criticised for excluding the arts and narrowing the curriculum. A recent cultural education report from the Royal Shakespeare Company said with the system of "facilitating" subjects “the implication is that if you want to keep your options open, don’t study arts subjects”.

The RSC welcomed the Russell Group’s “significant shift in approach” by dropping the list, which director of education Jacqui O’Hanlon said had “unintentionally contributed to [a] prevailing and very damaging attitude; it has unintentionally devalued arts subjects”.

She added: “The Russell Group’s new guidance simply states that students should study what they enjoy and what they are good at”.

The Russell Group’s new site will show the subjects recommended for specific degrees, but will also allow pupils to input different combinations of A levels to explore which degree courses they open up.

Arts Council England chair Nicholas Serota said the Informed Choices guide would “better reflect the full variety of subjects that form a well-rounded education”.

“The new guide makes clear that arts disciplines are valuable subjects of study in themselves but can also contribute to the knowledge and skills required for many professions from law to medicine and design to engineering,” he said.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and founder of the Bacc for the Future campaign, said the Russell Group’s decision “further calls into question the EBacc policy”.

Read Jacqui O'Hanlon on the life lessons art can teach us here.



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