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19 May 2022

We are extremely concerned to learn of the decision to suspend recruitment for 138 courses at University of Wolverhampton, including all Level 4 and Level 7 dance provision (as well as wider performing arts provision) offered by the School of Performing Arts. The university is an established hub of performing arts activity, with excellent facilities and considerable connections with the wider dance sector and this decision will no doubt have a staggering effect on the uptake of dance at HE level.

Suspension and potential closure of this array of performing arts courses further damages public perception of such subjects, which have already been severely impacted by the use of negative language in Government discussion and media. ‘Low value’, ‘non-priority’ and ‘soft’ are just a handful of terms that have been used to describe courses which focus on the development of creative skill such as dance.

The creative industry in fact grew at five times the rate of the wider economy in real terms in 2017-2018, and brought £35 billion more to the UK economy than automotive, life sciences, aerospace and oil and gas industries added together. In 2019, arts and culture contributed £10.47 billion to the UK economy, which corresponds to 0.5% of total UK economic output.  Given the unique, world-leading status of dance in the UK, and the enormous positive economic input of the creative industries, it is essential that we offer dance HE courses to fulfil the employment requirement to fuel this industry in the future.

As we gradually recover as a nation from the Covid pandemic, the need for high quality performing arts provision could not be any more pertinent. Dance, the arts, creativity and physical activity were and continue to be, for many, sources of support, comfort and therapy, sustaining their physical fitness and mental wellbeing throughout the pandemic. Given that we now face a mental health crisis amongst the general population, in addition to the obesity crisis which existed pre-lockdown and can only have exacerbated (bearing in mind obesity increases the risk of dying from Covid) it is now more vital than ever that dance courses should be championed for providing such value at this time. There is a wealth of evidence highlighting the mental health benefits of both being involved in a creative subject and physical activity. Dance holds a unique place as it combines the two, bringing many physical and mental health benefits, including playing a positive role in keeping people active and thereby tackling obesity.

We also feel passionately that the location of University of Wolverhampton is of great significance in the dance education infrastructure.  The dance and performing arts courses offered provide a variety of options for students based locally who wish to stay at home whilst completing their studies. Therefore, the suspension of recruitment and potential closure of such courses significantly reduces the possibility of studying dance in this location. As the cost of living rises and more students opt to live from home whilst studying, it is essential that a broad and accessible offer of varied courses is available to all, regardless of circumstance or location.  

We would like to offer our support to all potential students and staff affected. As the sector support organisation for dance in the UK we champion and strongly advocate for dance through all stages of education and within the professional sector. One Dance UK will be in contact with the university to find out further details and see how we can support those affected.