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Rose Bruford and LIPA hit with ‘devastating’ cuts to education funding

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
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Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and have been hit with “devastating” cuts to their specialist government funding, losing more than £1.5 million combined.

Other institutions, including the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, have seen their allocation doubled, with Guildhall School of Music and Drama receiving £4 million more than last year.

LIPA and Rose Bruford were the biggest casualties in the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s annual allocation, which sets out the funding given to institutions across the country that provide intensive training.

On top of standard funding that specialist institutions – including drama and music colleges – receive for education and research, HEFCE also awards institution-specific funding to a small number of higher education institutions that provide “world-leading teaching”.

Following a review of the latter, the 2016/17 allocation sees drama schools LIPA and Rose Bruford lose £742,868 and £806,739 respectively, leaving them with no institution-specific funding at all.

Rose Bruford principal Michael Earley told The Stage that while he was disappointed with the result, the cut represented around 5% of the school’s overall income, adding that it would be “cushioned” by increasing earned income.

“We’ve been modelling and planning for potential cuts for well over a year, and one thing I will say is that there will be no impact whatsoever on our courses or the way we deliver them next year, or the year after,” he said.

Responding to the cut, LIPA principal Mark Featherstone-Witty said the review had resulted in “capricious” results and that the definition of ‘world-leading’ remained unclear.

“The main criteria for this review was [being] world-leading. In our case, we have more international students than any other specialist performing arts institution in the country… This process has taken out the most successful institution in attracting international students,” he told The Stage, adding that LIPA would appeal the decision.

He added: “Institution-specific funds help fund high-cost performing arts provision. Removing [them] means high-cost provision is, inevitably, severely damaged.”

Drama UK chief executive Ian Kellgren echoed criticisms of the outcome.

“This news is devastating for some providers of quality vocational actor training. Combined with a reduction in the amount of money available for the Dance and Drama Awards, it underlines the need for some new thinking on how to fund drama training,” he said.

Yet the outcome was praised by Central principal Gavin Henderson, who said: “We have been campaigning for nigh on 20 years for the establishment of a truly transparent system of assessing specialist funding, and for the creation of a level playing field.”

Guildhall principal Barry Ife described the funding as “a richly deserved accolade that reflects a sustained effort across the institution for many years”.

How is HEFCE funding changing?

In addition to standard funding that specialist institutions receive for education and research, HEFCE awards institution-specific funding to a small number of higher education institutions that are providing ‘world-leading teaching’.

The funding distribution for the latter has been reviewed, and the 2016/17 allocation sees LIPA and Rose Bruford lose £742,868 and £806,739 respectively, leaving them with no institution-specific funding.

Both will however receive transitional funding from HEFCE during the coming year. This means their total HEFCE grants are £863,000 for LIPA and £1,170,000 for Rose Bruford.


HEFCE funds institutions that provide intensive training, such as drama schools. Funding is provided annually to drama schools for education, research and other activities.

On top of this standard funding, a number of colleges receive institution-specific funding – an additional and discretionary grant given to a number of colleges that have been classed as providing teaching that is world-leading in its field.

HEFCE undertook a review of institution-specific funding in 2015/16, which required schools to submit evidence to demonstrate that they deserved to receive institution-specific funding. The results of this institution-specific funding round were announced on May 6, along with the total grants that schools will receive in 2016/17.

For example, in 2015/16, LIPA received £1,182,421. £742,868 of this was institution-specific funding. As of 2016/17, LIPA has lost all of its institution-specific funding going forward, but will receive £371,434 in transition funding from HEFCE. This takes its total HEFCE grant for 2016/17 to £862,999, representing a 27% cut.

Central has seen an increase of £2.1 million in this type of funding, with Guildhall being allocated £4 million for 2016/17 where it previously had nothing – marking an increase in the school’s total grant of 260%.

Elsewhere, the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, which incorporates schools such as RADA, LAMDA and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, has had its institution-specific funding reduced by approximately £1.3 million, to £4.7 million.

The announcement follows a period of review, during which eligible institutions submitted evidence to demonstrate their world-leading status. The submissions were considered by an independent review panel commissioned by HEFCE.

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