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Performing arts degrees face axe at Scottish college

The Motherwell Campus at NCL
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More than 7,000 people have signed a petition to save the BA performing arts degrees at a Scottish college, which are due to be scrapped next year.

Students argue that stopping the BA acting and musical theatre degrees at New College Lanarkshire will leave drama students in Scotland with “extremely limited” options.

Many have taken to social media using the hashtag #SaveOurBA to protest against the cuts, claiming they will make the performing arts industry “even more elitist”.

The two BA courses, available at the college’s campuses in Motherwell and Coatbridge, are among only a few performing arts degrees covered by the Scottish government’s SAAS funding, which pays for students’ fees.

New College Lanarkshire has confirmed the degrees are being scrapped because the Northumbria University, which validates the courses, will no longer do so. Northumbria University has said the decision to end the validation of the courses was taken after a "strategic review" of the courses it offered.

In Scotland, students take an Higher National Certificate and Higher National Diploma qualifications in their first and second years, completing the BA with an additional third year. Students currently studying for their HNC or HND will not be able to continue to a BA.

Student Rebecca Smith said: “Many students have been left scrambling to figure out their next steps. As NCL was the only place to offer a degree course in musical theatre funded by SAAS in Scotland – other than the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which is notorious for its low intake of Scottish students – our only other option would be to attend private institutions or go to school in England, which isn't possible for most, due to the astronomical cost of attending.”

She added: “It is unfair that we might have to give up our dream, simply because we cannot afford our education.”

The petition on Change.org calls for the BA courses to be protected, arguing that scrapping them will have a major impact on young emerging artists across Scotland.

It has gained support on Twitter, with one user saying the move to discontinue the degrees is “a cut to the future of so many”.

A Northumbria University spokesman said: “The decision to end the validation of courses at New College Lanarkshire was taken after a strategic review of all courses offered by the university.

"New College Lanarkshire was made aware of our intention to end the relationship in October 2015. After further consultation with the college, it was agreed that this relationship would be extended for a further year to allow extra time for the programme to be put in place by the college with an alternative provider."

A spokeswoman from NCL said: "The college has a strong record of supporting performing arts courses and work is ongoing to look at alternative options that would allow degree level study within this area to continue."

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