The article “Let’s protect the foundations of UK creativity” (Comment), casts a nostalgic eye back to a “golden past” of British art schools. Certainly, the free tuition and maintenance grants that allowed generations to progress through higher education debt-free was hugely beneficial. But in those days, only 6% of the population entered higher education. Today it is nearly 50%. The author’s comments about social mobility are not borne out by recent Ucas statistics, which show an increase in female applicants and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The article arrives at an unexpected conclusion between “straitened financial times” and the apparent replacement of practitioner teachers with “educationalists and academics”. Surely places of learning are meant to be populated by “educationalists and academics”? The fact that students in the 1970s and 1980s were taught by figures such as artist Michael Craig Martin is fantastic; but it still happens today. Jane Wilson (Turner prize nomination 1999) is a senior tutor in fine art at the RCA; Gerry McGovern (chief creative officer of Range Rover) is a visiting professor here.

Let’s not get too misty-eyed. Many of today’s leading figures shudder when they recall the misogyny and rampant favouritism of their student days.

Paul Thompson
Rector, Royal College of Art
London SW7

The Observer - Sept. 27th 2015

🗑️🔥 Thompson