HL Deb 12 October 1999 vol 605 cc283-97

7.41 p.m.

Lord Freyberg

My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to introduce this debate on the Government's plans for the funding and role of art colleges in the United Kingdom. I wish to spell out the enormous changes which have taken place in art colleges in the past decade; the effect of those changes; and the likely consequences if certain aspects of funding are not rethought.

The case for art colleges is an unusual one. Their importance lies not only in the obvious end results—painting and sculpture—but in the atmosphere of creativity engendered and encouraged. Over the years, that has borne fruit in the work of the creative industries, which range from product design and fashion and furniture-making to graphic design, the film world and the theatre. In other words, our colleges make a major contribution to Britain's economy, although many of the most profitable movers and shakers in the design world start off studying fine arts before turning to more practical applications. That is because creativity has to be properly nurtured before any quantifiable results appear. Britain's imaginative art school courses have in the past been excellent at doing that, winning admiration world-wide. However, with their emphasis on employability, governments sometimes seem to confuse education with training. For example, recent Conservative governments attempted to boost vocational art courses at the expense of non-vocational ones, not realising their interdependence.

In the past decade art colleges have been forced to run themselves as commercial enterprises. While there is nothing particularly sinister in modernising institutions or putting professional practices in place, the cost-cutting has gone too far. Every year since 1989 governments have demanded an annual efficiency rate of at least 1 per cent, and sometimes up to 3 per cent, in real terms. The practice continues under the current Labour Government. While there was room for improvement initially, the continuing chipping away at funding throughout the 1990s has had a detrimental effect. Instead of putting their energy into maintaining excellence, art colleges have had to concentrate on fund-raising while course heads have been overwhelmed with paperwork. The pressure has eroded core teaching and damaged a precious ethos. It is a running battle which staff feel they are losing. Students and their work suffer as a result, while tutors are frustrated at being diverted from what they were hired to do. The policy is short-termism at its worst.

Of particular concern are two practices art colleges have been forced to adopt. These were reasonable in their initial stages but have been taken to damaging extremes. First, since the late 1980s colleges have been obliged to take on more and more students in order to maintain their original level of funding, but without a corresponding increase in facilities, working space or tutors. For example, in 1989, I was one of around 100 students on the foundation course at Camberwell College of Arts; today, there are 324. Extra students may keep up figures—and thus funding—but teachers have less time for individual tuition, and students find that there are simply not enough kilns, video editing suites or materials to go round. Student surveys at the London Institute all indicate that students are dissatisfied with the amount of equipment, studio space and resources available.

The second cause for concern is the explosion of overseas art students in the UK, up from 3,316 in 199495 to 6,654 in 1997–98. In theory, that development should be exciting and enriching; in practice such students are encouraged chiefly for the extra income their fees provide. In 1998–99, 2,143 students from 88 different countries contributed fees of £12.2 million to the London Institute, which consists of Camberwell College of Arts, Central St Martin's. Chelsea College of Art, the London College of Printing and the London College of Fashion. It would not survive without that extra income. Is it right to depend on overseas students to that extent?

Colleges are free to set their own level of fees for students from outside the European Union—depending on what the market can bear. Thus, the Ruskin in Oxford charges £6,684 a year; the Slade £11,435; and the Royal College of Art £15,670 a year. By comparison, Eton College, with longer terms and full board, costs £15,660 per year. Without such fees, these institutions would go to the wall. They are therefore obliged to take as many foreign students as possible. There is no set limit. Inevitably, the quality of those students' work is less important than their ability to pay. Too often, overseas students cannot speak much English—in spite of their course involving written work.

That naturally lowers the morale of other students who have to fight harder for their own places. But everyone's credibility is affected. The overseas students feel that they have been seduced to British art colleges as cash cows and that, thanks to overextended courses, the back-up and facilities they were promised simply do not exist. There are several cases pending in London where overseas students are suing the college they attend for delivering poor value for money.

In addition, there are stories of art colleges touting for business abroad. vying in an unsightly manner with each other for desirable potential students. Is it really desirable that rich foreign students alone—rather than talented ones—should have access to British art colleges? Rather than making further education more accessible, such a policy diminishes diversity. That is an iniquitous double standard. Moreover, it is extremely difficult for institutions to voice their concerns without fear of being penalised.

Worse still, by cramming in students and accepting some of dubious standard, Britain risks losing its reputation for excellent art education—the very reason overseas students are prepared to pay over the odds. So far, people are still willing to pay, but if the current situation continues we shall kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Art colleges should not be penalised for practices that have been forced on them. However, that could well happen once there is regulation of the recruitment of overseas students, the level of their fees, and so on, and the findings are published, as should properly happen. Instead, the Government should accept that they have pushed the situation too far, show that they are prepared to get to grips with the problem, and allow otherwise efficient organisations to operate at a less pressurised level in the best interests of students and staff alike.

There are other financial problems, in particular the lack of postgraduate funding, which is the responsibility of the Arts and Humanities Research Board, set up in 1998. Postgraduate bursaries for arts and design are far fewer than in other subjects and the competition steeper. At PhD level, students of English and history are eligible to apply for funds but arts and design graduates are not.

With that scenario, the brightest and most promising students are likely to be deterred from continuing their studies because they cannot face further debt. So, while the UK's invisible earnings in music, art and film are mammoth, and the Government make a lot of mileage out of Britain's creative industries, the funding to develop those skills largely runs out at undergraduate level. Where is the logic in that?

All these concerns would not matter if students were getting a better education, but they are not. The academic base of art colleges is being constantly eroded. Sadly, the reason is financial—the commodification of art education. By placing too many financial and managerial constraints you blight standards and morale.

What we have in our art colleges is very special. It is the driving force behind the creative economy. That is why colleges deserve sustained funding to continue in the most robust manner possible. The Government must act soon or they will destroy—however unintentionally—one of Britain's best resources.

7.59 p.m.

The Earl of Clancarty

My Lords, A disaster of massive proportions is going unnoticed in the press. I'm referring to a development of major national significance, which every painter and sculptor I know has bitterly opposed since its inception; namely, the Government-decreed, and therefore forcible, absorption of nearly all the country's biggest and most important colleges of art by the new polytechnics". So began Patrick Heron's article titled Murder of the Art Schools published in the Guardian coincidentally on Tuesday 12th October 1971, exactly 28 years ago. He says: Would it not be much better to streamline the whole system in such a way that the vast majority of art students were side-tracked from the beginning into a host of useful, economically justifiable, skills and disciplines and indeed trades—in a word—were discouraged from the madness of pursuing the uselessness of fine art, which is an end in itself, and were encouraged instead to think from the start of the relevance of the applied arts to society? One almost has to add that that was meant ironically, because today it appears to be government policy.

Heron did not dismiss what he termed the applied arts—far from it. However, what he regarded as central is now regarded as marginal—a grassroots groundswell of free and independent artistic thinking that might tentatively be termed a core or base level "fine art culture" or "impulse" out of which the applied artists, designers, pop musicians and all others could draw and develop ideas. The understanding is that this terrain of experimental thinking could develop properly only in institutions which retain their autonomy within the education system.

It is this terrain of experimental thinking which is today most under threat. One of the problems now is a confusion about what an artist is. Heron used the phrase, the relevance of the applied arts to society", but today we might rephrase that as, "the relevance of the arts as applied to the demands and needs of society and industry".

It is tacitly assumed, certainly by this Government, that the so-called "creative industries" embrace the work of all artists. The creative industries are not all-inclusive. They define a certain kind of creative work which can respond rapidly to the demands of the market. They do not necessarily include artists who have a critical relationship to society, untempered by commercial considerations.

Over the past three decades, the absorption of colleges into polytechnics and universities and the accompanying lack of resources for a greatly increased number of arts students, also mirrored by a decline in the funding of the arts sector, has begun to place certain limits on freedoms of thought and creativity, as it existed within the colleges.

That does not mean that there is not creative thinking in art colleges and university art departments; there is a great deal. But the reduction in available studio space, for example, places a limitation on the possibility of developments not only in practice but also in the thinking which is dependent on that practice. Nor should creativity stop at the college gates. Those who have been watching the current BBC documentary series on the Royal College of Art may recall the remarks in the programme on fashion of one of the students. She said that while she was at college this was her "last chance"—that was the phrase she used—to be creative, since after graduating there would be no further chance to experiment. It is clear that such feelings are now not uncommon and that they start to raise questions not only about the funding of art departments, but also about the whole relationship between the work that is carried out in those departments and the outside funding environment.

Loans and tuition fees, too, are part of this creation of a mental climate which justifies everything you do in economic rather than in intellectual or artistic terms. I believe there was nothing essentially wrong with the mandatory grant system, and that it should be restored. The London Institute estimates that after three full years of loans, students taking fine art courses will be in debt on average by about £14,000. The assumption is that graduates will get jobs, and indeed there is considerable evidence to suggest that arts graduates are very adaptable in taking different kinds of jobs within the arts sector and outside. But that does not help those students whose primary desire is to become artists contributing to that groundswell of creative activity from which others also may draw inspiration.

The question should be not whether we can find work for the artist to do when he or she leaves art college, but whether we are prepared to believe in and value the work in which in many respects they are already engaged. A detailed National Artists Association survey found that the average income of practising artists was just over £7,000 a year. We have a laissez-faire attitude towards arts graduates. The tendency is to say, "They'll win through in the end if they persevere". That is obviously true for those who do. However, you do not build a thriving culture in that way, but one that is for ever struggling. You cannot expect individual products of creativity to emerge without the contribution of a considerable number of artists who themselves may never achieve recognition.

A particular casualty of lack of funding is the arts foundation course which is placed at a crucial point between leaving school and beginning a degree course. Foundation courses provide prospective arts students with a necessary experimental grounding in a range of practical areas from which they can later choose to specialise. There are no loans for foundation students, clearly no government grant funding. The student is often still living at home and having to be supported for the cost of materials and educational trips, among other things, by families that often cannot afford it. The danger is that foundation courses will become increasingly populated by students from wealthier backgrounds, and that poorer students will be excluded.

The whole problem of resources for art students is paramount. Last year, students at Camberwell College of Arts held a 10-day occupation which was primarily a protest against lack of resources. There are important differences, for example, between fine art and design practice and other subjects, not only in terms of cost but in terms of the utilisation of space and time. Since the Further Education Funding Council took over the funding of art foundation courses from the local authorities, with an accompanying drastic reduction in funding, it has applied what are called "space norms" which are the standards by which the space which students occupy in a college is assessed. Yet the normal assumptions that the FEFC makes in terms of space, student frequency and occupancy are those that apply to disciplines which will use the lecture room, for example, where space is about a constant flow of students. Practical courses are by nature quite different in that colleges tend to encourage students to occupy a studio on site every day of the week. I ask the Minister whether she will agree to look into the issue.

In line also with problems other disciplines face, teaching staff suffer from an overload of administrative duties. In art colleges this situation is particularly detrimental because it affects the time they can devote effectively to their students, including the need for one-to-one tutorial contact, as well as the time necessary to devote to the development of their own creative work.

When I phoned the DfEE to research this debate, I was told that it had no policy on art colleges. It had policies on further and higher education, but not on art colleges per se. That is clearly at least in part a result of the absorption in to universities of art courses which has taken place over such a long period. I would be interested to know whether the Department of Education and Science in 1971 would have given me the same response.

Finally, when looking at art colleges, one also has to look at art education as a whole and to see the importance of the arts and humanities as having a fundamental place at the heart of the school curriculum. I note that there is to be a joint response by the department and the DCMS to the report of the National Advisory Committee on Cultural and Creative Education on creativity, culture and education at the end of this month. But what I most look forward to is a detailed joint policy by both departments on art education, from schools right through to post-graduate level.

8.8 p.m.

Viscount Falkland

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, has given us an interesting subject for debate. He asks the Government an interesting Question and I have no doubt that the noble Baroness will give him a full and interesting Answer. I wish to explore some of the implications of the questions which the noble Lord asked and the concerns which arise from them.

The primary objectives of the Government's education policy are admirable. They are to increase literacy and numeracy in our country. If they succeed—and we all hope that they will—that must inevitably increase equal opportunities in this country and contribute to our future affluence, success and competitiveness in the world. The concerns we have on these Benches are that the concentration on these admirable objectives must not be permitted to eclipse the importance of the arts.

The arts in this country have enjoyed a chequered career in education over a number of years. Indeed, my own parents met at an art school. My mother was training to be a painter in the late 1920s. What my father was doing in the art school is not entirely clear, but that is where they met. She went on, unusually for those times, to make a living, not as a portrait painter as she had intended but in fashion work, later going on to paint portraits. 'There was a reasonably large number of people in the art schools at that time but most of them went there to study painting, drawing, sculpture and the more craft-oriented areas of the arts. I met my first wife when she was at art school at Clerkenwell at the beginning of the 1960s. At that time the art schools were quite well funded by various local authorities. There were a lot of young men and women attending them, carrying out a lot of experimental work—far too experimental for the taste of many— and many successful people went on" not necessarily into the world of painting and drawing but into the worlds of music, film and so on. Again, funding was not an enormous problem.

I now have a daughter who has decided to discontinue her studies at art school, her reason being that she has always wanted to be a painter. Though she had a good academic record, she decided not to go to university but to go to art school. There she found that, because of the need now for students to acquire skills to pass a degree course, she was not enabled to draw and paint to the extent that she wanted but was required to write essays on post-Modernism and to discuss the influence of Kant, Hegel and so on, in various essays—essays which she could write. She said, however, that 90 per cent of the students there had not heard of Kant or Hegel, or indeed knew what post-Modernism was; but they wrote the essays and everyone received the same marks—indicating that there was collusion between the students and the administration, in order to go through the performance of maintaining the new educational importance of these kinds of subject. My daughter, who wishes to be a painter, has therefore left and is painting.

This is slightly worrying, though I appreciate that art schools now have a much wider remit, given the requirements of a technological society and the wider application of the arts. I am concerned because, as my daughter said in rather broader terms than I would wish to use in your Lordships' house, it is distressing that the atmosphere in the art school—an excellent art school, with excellent teaching in drawing and painting—was that of an almost exclusively middle-class establishment.

These days, because of the lack of funding, the need to pay tuition fees and the need to borrow as a student, it means that many people from poorer backgrounds are no longer willing or wish to take the risk to go to art school. Art schools are expensive institutions to run. A lot of space is needed: much more than a lot of people crammed into a room, learning about Kant and Hegel, for example. You need room for the materials for sculpture, painting, drawing, photography and so on. The tuition costs alone represent an inhibitory factor for the broad entry from our society which is needed. After all, much of the contribution to the arts in this country over the last 30 to 40 years has been across the socio-economic barriers. I am quite sure that in that regard I would have the support of David Hockney and Patrick Procter, for example—another painter from that period but from a different background.

Given that, and also the fact that because of the urge to move towards literacy and numeracy infant pupils are having less access to the arts than before—a survey by the Royal Society of Arts has shown that such pupils now spend half the time on arts-related subjects that they did 10 years ago—one has some concern for the coming generations going to the art schools. There is less funding for visits to art galleries and exhibitions. One wonders whether this trend will lead to a situation which is worrying in a wider context.

I hesitate to mention France because it always seems to raise the hackles, particularly of government, but France is a country which might be described in the broadest possible sense as a bourgeois country. It has high standards of education generally, even though a lot of disputes arise in that area. It has a high standard of living and people have high expectations in their life and attainments. It is a much more formal society. Indeed, a term of disapproval, if a member of one's family in France is not doing a regular job or is disappointing the family in some way, is "He's an artist". On the other hand, they pay great attention to culture and the arts—much more than we do.

I am concerned that we become an ordered, prosperous, successful society, a much less differentiated society - in the way that I am quite sure the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, would like us to become, as I do—but that we do that without paying attention to the arts. At least the French, although they are a much less free society than we are and a much more centrally controlled society, realise that it is important to encourage artists of all kinds, not only to do what they do but to challenge the barriers which face them; indeed, to encourage them to be iconoclastic, to take risks, to push the barriers forward; indeed, to fail—always a problem with artists. In order to flourish, they must be allowed to fail as well as to succeed. I wonder if the noble Baroness has an answer to this?

I am sorry if I am asking questions which I should more properly ask of the Minister for Culture, but I am quite sure that the noble Baroness and the Minister often speak together on these subjects.

It is a matter of concern. Will the Government seek to correct the dangerous trends being pointed out by the Royal Society of Arts and others, and the fact that fewer people will want to go into the arts because they do not have the basic education to do so? Will we bear in mind the need for us to take and maintain our place as a country which in the arts is challenging, innovative—even at the risk of offending a few people with cows' heads and other things which appear in exhibitions?

8.19 p.m.

Baroness Blotch

My Lords, there is absolutely no doubting the interest and the passion with which the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, supported by his noble friend Lord Clancarty, views the importance of the arts. In the Motion before the House we are to discuss the funding and the role of the arts in the United Kingdom.

I have been absolutely fascinated by the family history of the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland. We heard an interesting story about how his daughter responded to her place in art school. That, too, poses a number of questions to which we look forward to hearing the Minister reply. I welcome this debate and the opportunity that the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, has given us.

There will be little difference between all parties on the importance of the role of the arts in the United Kingdom. All aspects of our lives are touched in some way by the skills and talents of those who have trained in arts and design. At the most practical level we must accept that art and design underpin all our manufacturing industries. We must also recognise how the quality of our lives is enhanced by music, drama and art in all its forms. More importantly, we must recognise the massive contribution that the arts make to economic generation and regeneration.

I take some pride in having been a member of a government that introduced art into the national curriculum as a right for all children. Sadly, it is no longer central to the national curriculum as it once was. I was also party to the development of the city technology colleges and specialist schools, including those that specialised in the arts. They have been so successful that I am pleased to note that they exist under the present Government and that their number is still increasing.

However, I believe that the predominant concern of the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, apart from stating the obvious—the importance of the arts within the United Kingdom—is their funding. Much has been made of the £9 billion earmarked for education over a three-year period. Schools, colleges, universities and colleges of the arts can be forgiven for expecting vastly increased budgets, but when one realises how the £9 billion is arrived at a different picture emerges: just over £3 billion this year, £3 billion next year and just over £3 billion the year after. This cumulative accounting has been used to create the impression of a massive increase for education. However, much of the educational world has been waking up the fact that this does not live up to the generosity claimed by the Government.

The noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, and his colleagues on the Liberal Benches have done some detailed work on this matter and are making comparisons between the funding provided by the two governments. The noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, was fairly even-handed in his criticism not only of the present Government but of the previous one, but the funding is not as generous as it may seem. Even the Prime Minister is discovering this. His children attend a school with a fine reputation for music and the arts. I have been most impressed by the work going on in the school. That school is receiving less money than it requires to maintain its present level of staffing.

There is a good deal of data available, but I have found it quite difficult to find it over the past few days. I pose a number of questions for the Minister. Just in case the Minister suggests that I ask too many questions at short a notice, either I shall receive the answers now or perhaps I shall be patient and wait for them in writing. But it would be interesting to know just how much of the additional moneys from tuition fees has gone specifically to arts colleges. How many specific arts colleges within the whole list of such institutions have been singled out for preferential treatment? I make no criticism of that. There have been some generous allocations of grant to ballet, music and the conservatoires, which have already been mentioned. However, I have in mind core arts college funding and the extent to which the preferential treatment is detracting from the funding of the other arts colleges.

How many art foundation course students took a course in 1998–99 with the intention of going on to higher education commencing this autumn, and who will be liable for tuition fees? That question was posed in February of this year. The response from Mr Moody in the department was that the data would be available in April, so it would be helpful to have that information now. How much would it cost to exempt arts foundation courses from tuition fees? That question has also been asked before but there has been insufficient information about how many young people take up places on foundation courses. That concern was raised by both the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty.

Finally, how much money is being diverted away from the National Lottery Arts and Heritage Fund to health, education and the environment? I am a trustee of two museums and am involved with many schools. I receive a fair postbag about those organisations that have high expectations of grants from the Arts and Heritage Fund. They are in receipt of some pretty stern letters which say that funds are now much depleted and will not be available in such amounts in future. It is important to have that information.

We were not to know that one noble Lord would scratch from this debate. In such a short time it is difficult to do justice to the subject. I have looked through the pages of Hansard to see how many times we have discussed the arts. We have done so a number of times. I shall not repeat what has been said before, other than to return to what I said at the beginning. So often we underrate the role of the arts in the United Kingdom, their aesthetic importance, their importance as an economic generator within the country and their importance to our country as a whole in maintaining our status in the world.

Having said that, one does not want to detract from standards in our schools today wherever one sees young people's art exhibitions and drama and music productions. At the end of this month I shall attend the Schools Orchestra Concert in Birmingham. The orchestra will be playing again next year in Paris. The standard is superb. The importance of this debate is to ensure that that standard is preserved. I end by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, for this further opportunity to give our support to the subject.

8.27 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone)

My Lords, I too am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, for giving me this opportunity to speak about the role and funding of art and design colleges. Art and design is central to society and to our sense of ourselves, enriching ourselves in every way. It is inextricably linked with our culture and heritage. I very much agree with the remarks of the noble Lord and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty. We should value the fine arts for their own sake. But art and design and its associated activities make a very large and growing contribution to the economy, and that is not something that we should ignore.

Before I turn to education in art and design, I should say a brief word about general government support for the arts and perhaps respond to some of the points raised by the noble Viscount. Following the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government have put in place a three-year funding settlement which involves an increase of £125 million for the arts and £99 million for museums and galleries. This is the biggest-ever increase in funding for cultural activity by central government and is something of which we can be proud. It will help to create stability, fund new productions, support key arts organisations and increase access, we hope, for many thousands of people.

We have taken other measures. We have established a special fund—the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, referred to this—to enable dance and drama students to obtain proper grants and assistance to undertake courses at accredited colleges. We are ensuring that the provisions of the New Deal are appropriate to the needs of young musicians who wish to follow that career path. We have insisted that art, music and drama must remain a statutory part of the national curriculum in our schools. I think that issue was raised by more than one speaker. We have also established NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) to provide a national fund for talent.

The arts provide their own justification by what they do for us all. As I think the noble Baroness. Lady Blatch, has already said, they also have an increasing economic importance in our national life, in commercial music, film, architecture, design, publishing, broadcasting, multimedia, and fashion. Growing at twice the rate of the economy as a whole, these industries are worth over £60 billion per year. I am not sure that I completely understood what the noble Earl was saying in his comments on creative industry, but I think it is reasonable to consider these collectively as a creative industry because they rest ultimately for their economic value on the creativity of individuals, and the intellectual property that is created by them. Economically, artists and designers are categorised as part of the creative industry sector. Recent work by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport attempted to measure, for the first time, the extent of this sector. The estimate was that it generated added value of about £25 billion, with export earnings of nearly £7 billion. These industries are growing at a rapid rate—a 34 per cent increase in employment over the 10-year period of the census compared with only a slight increase throughout the economy as a whole. Of course, many of these industries take in graduates from our art and design colleges. At a rate of growth between 4 and 5 per cent per annum, which is less than the current rate of growth, within 10 years they could be employing 1.5 million people and generating revenue of £80 billion.

The Government are committed to supporting art and design colleges and to underpinning the provision of the broad range of teaching and training which they offer to students. Students enrol on art and design courses with many different aspirations: to progress to higher education; with a wish, often long held, to fulfil a talent; as a leisure interest or with a very determined career intention. The range of college provision is extraordinarily diverse. Art and design includes the traditional artistic disciplines—painting, drawing, sculpture, print-making and the full range of design specialisms. Although the disciplines encompassed are various, underlying them is a shared emphasis on personal creativity.

I dispute any suggestion that personal creativity is not valued in our art colleges. I am sorry to hear that the daughter of the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, is giving up her course. I do not know which art college he was referring to which gave these identical marks on essays on Kant and Hegel and post-modernism—I suppose it is just possible that all the students wrote essays of a similar standard. However, I hope that his daughter has a successful career and that she might perhaps consider returning at some time.

Surveys of employment available in the area of art and design often use overlapping definitions, but its importance is often underestimated. It makes an enormous contribution to the economy, bigger than perhaps many people imagine. The Financial Times has made an assessment that this sector employs more people than the high street banks and building societies combined. We are looking at something approaching 800,000 people, with a turnover to match.

The importance of art and design in the arts industries is a consequence of the very high standing in the world enjoyed by British designers and creative technicians. They include household names such as the artist David Hockney, designers such as Sir Terence Conran and James Dyson, and fashion designers such as John Galliano and Zandra Rhodes. Of course, we could mention many others. Most practitioners who contribute to the vigorous national culture for which this country is renowned began their careers in further and higher education courses in art and design. As well as preparing them for employment, these courses educate students to become enlightened consumers of the arts and the media, something we should not forget.

Chris Smith has recently said that the present 50 per cent of the population who enjoy or take part in the arts should be increased to two-thirds within the next 10 years. I hope that his prediction proves to be right. Also, we know that the arts, when taken together with sport and leisure, can contribute to neighbourhood renewal, urban regeneration, and can help to counter social exclusion.

Perhaps I may advise the noble Viscount that I do not think there is any evidence that fewer people want to go into the arts. There are 15 specialist art and design colleges—seven are in the further education sector and eight are in higher education. Although HEFCE does not technically regard it as a specialist art and design college, there is the London Institute which covers the Camberwell College of Arts, which counts among its past students the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, and there are the other well known colleges which comprise the London institutes, such as St. Martin's, which I think is now known as Central and St. Martin's; Chelsea; the London College of Fashion, and the London College of Printing.

There are about 5,000 students studying art and design in the seven FE colleges and 8,000 in HE in its eight specialist colleges. Around 14 per cent of those students are postgraduates. The London Institute, through its five colleges, adds a further 6,000 art and design students, again with around 14 per cent being postgraduates. We must not forget that this is only a part, albeit a very central part, of the much wider picture. Some 330,000 students are studying art and design in other colleges in the FE sector and over 80,000 students are studying art and design at other HE institutions. Overall, there are around 430,000 students on art and design courses.

Incidentally, I am not sure that I really agree with the implied criticisms of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, about the merger of some of the former art colleges with the polytechnics, which happened under the previous administration. I believe that those new universities, as they have subsequently become, are providing very good courses in art and design for many of the students to whom I have just referred.

I turn now to the issue of funding. I do not want to get into arguments about what the previous administration did. I do not want to dwell on the fact that there was a 40 per cent reduction in per capita funding for students in higher education; nor do I want to dwell on the collapse in funding for further education colleges when the demand-led expansion was introduced. What I do want to say, however, is that this Government have acted to restore funding in both further and higher education and that, of course, the art colleges will have benefited very substantially from that. The settlement following the Comprehensive Spending Review was excellent news for both FE and HE. For further education, another £725 million is being made available over the next two years with another £776 million for HE.

I cannot answer the precise questions of the noble Baroness about the art colleges' share in these overall figures, but we shall certainly write to her. What I can say is that specialist FE colleges receive over £12 million per annum. The number of students is expected to rise by 8 per cent over the next three years and the number of students studying art and design is expected to rise by 12 per cent. Again I think that that adds to what I said to the noble Viscount earlier.

In higher education, the specialist art and design institutions are getting over £30 million in the current academic year which has just started. That is over 11 per cent more than last year. Again, the somewhat downbeat assessment by the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, was not entirely accurate. However, I think that he was referring to some of the cuts that had taken place earlier.

Unfortunately, I have run out of time and I shall not be able to pick up on all the other questions including those that related to funding of overseas students. However, I wish to say briefly that international students bring great benefits to the UK—financial, commercial and artistic. It is a very good business. But those students also bring with them a lot of talent. I do not accept that we are simply taking in rich students from abroad at the expense of able students. Nor would I accept that the art institutions are overcharging those students. As the noble Viscount said, the provision of art and design is expensive. They charge full-cost fees, but they are not above the actual cost of provision.

I conclude by saying that the specialist colleges and courses in art and design play a vital part both in our society and our economy. I can give my assurance to noble Lords who have spoken in the debate that the Government will continue to give their full commitment and support to our art and design colleges.

Lord Burlison

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 8.50 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.42 to 8.50 p.m.]