Published on February 25, 2014 | by Sophie Smallshaw


UAL is ‘outstanding, leading institution’

students outside CSM

UAL is a leading institution in arts courses, according to UUK Chief Executive Nicola Dandrige. [Mary Clarke]

The University of the Arts London has been described as a “widely recognised, outstanding, leading institution, specialising in the arts” by a key figure in the UK university sector.

Nicola Dandridge, the chief executive of Universities UK (UUK), was speaking to Arts London News after she made clear her stance on the subject of collaborations between universities and arts institutions in a post on the UUK website.

Along with a list of examples, Dandridge cited UAL’s partnership with the London Museums Group as an example of  “a wider educational and cultural offer to all university students (and staff); researchers and their work benefiting from arts activities and vice versa; boosting regions in terms of cultural activities and the creative industries; reducing costs and maximising value through sharing services, resources and information.”

Dandridge referred in her post to statistics which show that in 2012-13, there were 366,420 undergraduate students registered on arts, humanities and performing arts courses, representing 22.6 per cent of the overall UK student population.


Stating that these figures are “significant” in the representation of art education, Dandridge also noted that the UK welcomed a staggering 41,035 international students onto arts courses last year alone.

The support comes in response to recent backlash against arts degrees by prominent figures.

“We must ensure that students teachers and parents understand the immense value of arts courses.” Nicola Dandridge

In 2012, Michael Gove, secretary of state for Education, announced plans – since shelved – for an English Baccalaureate which would have marginalised arts subjects and, more recently, President Barack Obama was quoted mocking art history degrees.

For Dandridge, an arts education can provide qualifications and experience that can be vital beyond the creative sector – a notion that is often misunderstood.

“It is frustrating that often the contributions of the creative economy, and therefore the value of an arts education, are not fully recognised by government and others, and are often not reflected in business narratives about employability and economic recovery,” she said.


With STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects being pushed up on the educational agenda in recent years, Dandridge says that while they play an important part in education, the government “must be careful not [to] eclipse the cultural and economic importance of arts subjects”.

UUK hopes to ensure that the relationship between the arts and higher education features more prominently in higher education policy discussions.

“The creative industries, and arts education, are absolutely at the heart of that new reality, and we must ensure that students teachers and parents understand the immense value of arts courses,” she concluded.


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