A-level results signal drop in university students taking art and design this year

This year’s A-level results indicate a 3% drop in students accepted onto art and design undergraduate courses, down by over 1,500 people.

The number of students due to study art and design at university has dropped by over 1,500 since last year, according to UCAS’ analysis of this year’s A-level results.

UK students’ A-level results came out on 17 August, and show that a total of 416,310 students are due to go to university this year.

Drop of 3% in art and design accepted places

Over 10% of these pupils are going on to take Creative Arts and Design subjects at university, a subject group set by UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

This covers courses in design, fine art, craft, music, drama, dance, photography and creative writing.

44,110 students are due to take creative subjects, compared to 45,650 in 2016, a drop of 3% overall.

The biggest drop has been from students in England, followed by Wales and the European Union (EU). There was a rise of 9% for international students from outside of the EU.

Mirrors drop in applications

This trend mirrors application results revealed by UCAS in July, which showed 14,000 fewer students applied to study art and design at university this year compared to last, a 5% drop. It also showed a drop in UK and EU students, but a rise in international students.

Design academics and professionals have previously put this down to the UK Government’s focus in recent years on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), as well as fall-out from the Brexit vote.

Tim Bolton, vice principal at Plymouth College of Art, told Design Week in July that the Government’s “fixation on targets and accountability” were resulting in arts subjects “being relegated” in the national curriculum.

Design lecturer and creative director at Land Design Studio, Peter Higgins, also told Design Week in February that Brexit had “damaged the European market but not the wider market of Asia and Middle East”, which also applied to university applications.

Art and design still one of most popular choices

But while the number of pupils taking art and design at university has dropped, it is still one of the most popular routes for undergraduates.

It comes third for highest number of accepted applicants, behind Business and Administrative Studies, and Medicine, Dentistry and medicine-related subjects.

The figures are likely to change over the next month as more students are accepted into universities last minute through clearing.

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  • Lucy Whitmore August 30, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I think it’s really important to highlight the drop in students applying for further education as it highlights how the industry is straying away from the ‘norms’ of education. University is no longer a critical part in many creatives ever-growing career meaning that not as many students are applying for university after college.

    On the other hand, the drop in students applying to creative subjects could also highlight the growing pressure of finding a career in the Art and Design Industry which could also be the reason that many secondary schools no longer offer creative courses.

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