Dance HE Statement: 

Members may already have seen that UKDN Members, One Dance UK and People Dancing, have joined with the Society for Dance Research and Dance HE to issue a joint statement to draw attention to the increasing need to address the reduction of access to dance across education sectors.

Joint statement of concern from One Dance UK, DanceHE, People Dancing and Society for Dance Research:

It is of deep concern to learn of more announced closures of undergraduate dance degree courses ahead of the 2024/25 intake. One Dance UK, DanceHE, People Dancing and Society for Dance Research are working collectively to draw attention to the increasing need to address the reduction of access to dance across education sectors. In recent weeks, course closures have been announced at Arts University Bournemouth, University of Bedfordshire and Leeds Beckett University (where staff are actively seeking to work with senior management to retain the undergraduate dance provision). This adds to the ongoing loss of dance degree provision at numerous institutions across wide-spread locations, including University of South Wales, University of Plymouth, University of Surrey, University of Winchester, University of Derby, University of Central Lancashire and University of Wolverhampton. Utilising the specialist knowledge and expertise of staff, each course was instrumental in ensuring students could access a broad and varied range of higher education study routes in dance, to educate and prepare students for a fulfilled career in the arts and beyond. The impact of current financial pressures and challenges faced by the higher education sector, including the reduction in funding for arts subjects, is acute. As more courses close, the reality is that students who don’t wish to live away from home have limited or often no route of study for dance at university. Being able to study your preferred subject and follow your desired career trajectory should not be a postcode lottery, however this is fast becoming a reality with HE dance provision in the UK. It is in opposition to the ‘levelling up’ agenda we are so frequently reminded of. The impact of negative government rhetoric about “low value, non-priority and dead-end” creative arts subjects in schools cannot be underestimated in terms of its impact on young people’s perceptions and on parental support for creative careers. The narrowing of the curriculum in England means that many young people simply cannot study dance at examination level. This, together with withdrawal of funding to smaller local dance development organisations, has damaged the local pipeline into dance higher education. The latest round of degree course closures demonstrates the impact of this. The UK’s dance researchers were cited as ‘world leading’ and ‘world class’ in the 2021 research excellence framework (REF). Without a comprehensive dance offer at HE level, where students can see the value of studying dance and the many possibilities of work after graduating, where will the next generation of dancers, choreographers, teachers, designers, administrators and dance researchers evolve from? We issue this statement as a call to action. We need decision makers across government and within education to work together to address an erosion of degree-level dance provision, and request that decisions to close courses imminently are reconsidered. It is imperative that we now take collective action. Our organisations offer to participate in discussions, and can offer further research, support and knowledge about the importance of maintaining dance provision at HE level. There is an urgent need to focus on how the future of dance in education can be protected and rebuilt.