History UK is saddened, but unfortunately not surprised, by the latest news of course closures and redundancies in the Arts and Humanities. Staff at Wolverhampton, Roehampton, De Montfort, Dundee, Bishop Grosseteste, and other institutions face losing their jobs, with those remaining facing a sharp worsening of their working conditions. They join Goldsmiths in being victims of the recent series of attacks on the Arts and the Humanities.
That these cuts are falling disproportionately on Arts and Humanities and on post-92s is a direct outcome of decades of government policy that has promoted the ‘marketisation’ of higher education, and an ideologically-driven narrative around the value of STEM. That these announcements come in the wake of the REF results appears, at best, cynical and, at worst, callous.
Limiting access to the high-quality expertise that Arts and Humanities offer in post-92s harms social mobility and blatantly ignores the vibrancy of our sector. Research and teaching at these institutions is often highly innovative and greatly contributes to the social, cultural and economic life of local communities. The graduates these institutions produce are also highly flexible and able to contribute positively to society, even if their true worth is rarely reflected in statistics that crudely measure ‘graduate outcomes’ (in reality, incomes).
Along with the RHS and other scholarly associations, we have spoken out frequently in recent years about the value of History – and of the Arts and Humanities more generally – but we stress again: History graduates are just as employable as those in STEM, they represent confident, well-rounded, flexible, and thinking individuals, and the institutions that enable a diverse section of society to benefit from this education require our support.