humanities degrees: ave atque vale
more often than not, arts graduates get less bang for their buck than their more scientifically minded peers
? ? ? ? humanities degrees are falling out of favour in the uk. this month, sheffield hallam university nixed its english literature course, sparking an immediate backlash from writers and others in the arts world. the university of cumbria took similar steps last year. aston university’s languages programmes and modern languages at hull university have also been cancelled.
? ? ? ? this is odd for a nation governed by humanities graduates. it also seems financially ill-advised. fees for most british undergraduates are a flat ￡9,250, regardless of the costs — or benefits — of the course. degrees in subjects such as politics are cheaper to provide than those involving fully furnished labs or state of the art computing power.
? ? ? ? government top-up fundin
g reflects this discrepancy. the subsidy to arts courses was halved last year to ￡120 while the ￡1,500 provided mostly to stem courses is being nudged nearly 5 per cent higher this academic year.
? ? ? ? yet based on the latest available data, these subsidies fail to bridge the shortfall. deficits are most pronounced in clearly vocational subjects taken by would-be vets, dentists and doctors. most humanities, alongside law, break even on the average student. in the treacherous world of higher education, that counts as a good outcome.