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2nd October 2014

Students battle myth that Arts degrees are an unaffordable luxury

A student-led Manchester branch of The Arts Emergency Service plans to work with Manchester secondary schools to increase interest and excitement about arts and humanities subjects as university degree options.

A Student-led branch of the Arts Emergency Service aims to encourage arts and humanities subjects as degree options for Manchester students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

The Arts Emergency Service, co-founded by the comedian Josie Long and campaigner Neil Griffiths, is a charity set up in response to increasing tuition fees and the abolition of public funding of arts subjects in British universities.

Stewart Lee, comedian and writer says of the charity, “Arts Emergency are highlighting the reversal of decades’ of social access to the arts, and by association the possible disappearance of whole strands of discourse and the loss of educational enfranchisement to future generations. Save the thinker!”

Arts Emergency Manchester is a student branch of the Arts Emergency charity, working to encourage arts and humanities subjects as future options for pupils from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, through mentoring in schools.

The Manchester branch is in the process of creating a ten-week volunteering program which will begin in schools early next year.

They are looking for mentors in many different subject areas such as; Sociology, Criminology, American Studies, Journalism, Politics, Economics, Philosophy, Social Anthropology and History of Art.

The student volunteers plan to teach and encourage interest and excitement around subjects like criminology and philosophy which the students probably haven’t encountered before.

Joanna Harris, co-founder of the Manchester student branch said of the project “Arts Emergency Manchester came about as a reaction to the increasing marketisation of higher education. Education should be a right for all, not a preserve of the privileged.

“We want to show that the arts should not be viewed as luxuries that only few can afford to study. These subjects are intrinsically important in their encouragement of critical and analytical thinking, and allow students invaluable insight into society and the world. The idea that arts and humanities subjects do not lead to jobs is a myth.”

Earlier this year Arthur Baker, founder of the society, wrote an article in The Mancunion explaining why he believed in the importance of promoting arts and humanities subjects.

Baker wrote “more and more, a university education is seen as a commodity to be bought and sold. The government has axed teaching grants and trebled fees, imposing a free market system on our universities. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are encouraged to choose a degree based simply on how clear the career path from it is, and to see Arts and Humanities degrees as a luxury they cannot afford.”

Baker added that a university education “should be about widening your horizons, developing as a person, and studying something you love. We chose our degrees largely because they interested us, and we think everybody should be able to do that. Education for its own sake shouldn’t simply be the preserve of the rich.”

If you would like to help with the project, get in touch or come along to the next meeting. You can also visit their Facebook group, Arts Emergency Manchester, for more information.

For more information on the Arts Emergency Charity see their website

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