Policy updates from CHEAD AGM

March 25, 2024

Here is a short summary from Sandra Booth , Director of Policy and External Relations, CHEAD. Reporting on 2023 as presented at the AGM, and planning for the remainder of 2024 with a general election looming.

This past year, and the current, has been one of turbulence for the HE AMD sector (in my six years experience in HE policy). There are pressing concerns over the future of university finances, urgent need for student fees reform, misaligned policy on international students, widespread restructures, threats to our subject areas, whilst the wider cuts to local authority budgets and public services are causing destabilisation for Creative and Cultural ecologies and undermining the organisational networks and infrastructure in many locations.

Against this context comes an even greater need for advocacy which speaks to the opportunities for reform to a fairer, greener and future-focussed environment for art and design education– Nationally, regionally and locally – and across political, economic and social systems.

2024 Policy Takers to Policy Makers

The Board and my fellow directors are feeling optimistic for our Creative Education Manifesto. We are being listened to and we are getting traction. The recent House of Lords debate on the role of arts in society and the economy is massively encouraging and neatly puts the current state of play on the record for the incoming government to address. It’s going to be a really important next six months in the run up to the General Election and then beyond into the first 100 days of establishing the next government’s priorities.

We will be working with Creative UK as our direct route into Treasury developing the next phase of the sector vision and the Clusters programme.

CVAN have our support for the work on the Cultural Education Plan, plus the enrichment programmes proposed for the Advanced British Standard and are our main route into discussions with DCMS and ACE.

We prepared joint responses with Crafts Council and NSEAD to the T level specifications and proposals to defund BTECs.

We are aligned with the Design Council and will shortly publish our policy response to the decline in Design Education in schools. We are planning an ambitious policy focus for the World Design Congress in 2025 which will position the 1.97 million designers working in our economy at the heart of the digital and green reforms needed to Design for Planet.

We are part of the Creative Industries Sector Vision coronation challenge project for CreaTech. This is an 18-month research project developing a working definition of Createch as a sector which puts the ‘Create’ elements at the forefront, mapping the system, researching companies operating in this space, defining investment needs, start-up models, and grant funding needs from UKRI and Innovate UK, alongside looking at the skills needs and pathways into the sector.

For REF 2029 – CHEAD are forming an expert group made up of members of the RIKE Alliance to respond to consultations on open access, PCE, and alongside this will produce an internally, institutionally focussed REF advocacy piece aimed at VC’s, D and PVCs Research and professional research support staff responsible for institutional submissions – to speak from a position of confidence representing the strengths of our discipline areas.

These are just a few areas of our policy work. Regular updates are provided via the monthly policy briefings which reach over 1000 subscribers from CHEAD’s member institutions. I know everybody is incredibly busy and I can’t expect everyone to read everything, but the January issue had an unprecedented 750 people open the mailing and click through to the supporting content. I’m taking that as a sign that CHEAD members are very interested in, and engaging with the big strategic issues in the wider policy arena.


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