A new study has shown that arts and humanities have become the preserve of wealthy students. Academics worries about the possible deepen of the problem if the tuition fees are raised are not groundless. The statistics released by the Sutton Trust have revealed that 31% of graduates with degrees in history or philosophy in 2008 were children of senior managers with the highest income. Almost 27% of graduates among all universities belong to this socio-economic group. Among graduates with degrees in languages, 30% were also from the wealthiest homes.
In comparison, there were fewer students in non-arts and humanities courses, except for medicine and dentistry, who could be referred to the highest-income group. 47% of students from wealthy families studied at medicine and dentistry courses compared to 17% who took education courses, 22% - computer sciences and 23% - business studies courses.
Nowadays there is a fear that there will be fewer poorer young people who will apply for arts and humanities courses as they are likely to prefer career-oriented courses in case of the raised tuition fees. Next month Lord Browne, the former BP chief executive, is to publish his review into university funding. It is expected that he would recommend to ministers to raise the tuition fees up to £5,000 or £7,000 starting from 2013.
According to custom papers, next month the government will publish the results of its comprehensive spending review. It will cut billions of pounds of Whitehall money from university coffers and the universities' £4.7bn teaching budget may be cut by 75%. As a result, arts and humanities courses will be in the worst situation as universities are to protect "strategically important" subjects such as science, technology, engineering and maths. So, academics are concerned that arts and humanities could be taught only in top institutions in the future as they admit the fewer number of low-income students.