Hello current and budding arts students! You are probably all here reading this for the same reason I am writing it: we are currently facing a potential crisis in the Arts sector of Higher Education, and when I saw the Arts Emergency Service on Twitter, I knew it was something I’d like to get involved with. Education is not a commodity to be sold and the more we campaign for our right to learn, the more the current government have to listen – especially regarding the arts, something which they currently seem hell-bent on making as inaccessible as possible.
My name is Ellie, and I am a 3rd Year History Under-Graduate at the University of Sheffield. I am a bit of a geek at heart so I am staying at Uni next year to do a Masters in International History and from there the world will be my oyster (by saying that I really mean I am trying to not think too much about the scary world after education…). I’m sure I am just one of many current and potential history students who have heard the immortal phrase; ‘What do you want to do that pointless subject for? Do you want to work in a museum?!’ Without taking anything away from Museum Curators, a degree in history, as with all arts subjects, will open up a ridiculous amount of employment opportunities for example careers in Law, Teaching, Broadcasting and Politics (if anybody still wants to be a politician these days…) to name but a few. If the prospect of exciting and often well-paid careers is not enough to encourage the idea that arts degrees are not pointless, I’m not sure what is.
But, I’m not here to tell you what kind of salary you can hope to earn following three years of university as I’m sure you’ve heard it all before from increasingly desperate careers advisors. I am going to rather attempt to persuade you of the other benefits that come from choosing an arts degree, because contrary to popular belief there are many. For me, it has in fact been my arts degree which has made me realize what I want to do with my life, something that had previously changed more often than the weather; to work in international aid. Before I began my course I was, like most people, aware of the poverty of sub-Saharan African, but I had no idea why it was like this and what we could do to begin to change it. Three years on, I am sure it is the knowledge and skills I have acquired during my time studying history as well as the brilliant people I have met during my time at University that has inspired me to pursue this career and, dare I say it, try to change the world.
Of course, it’s not all rosy. At £3000 fees per year coming to Uni was not a decision I took lightly, let alone at the new figure of £9000 which seems to be being imposed around the country. I have been committed to campaigning against the rise in fees and the related education cuts, and it is something that I will continue to do because it is an injustice we should not let just pass us by. As a final word of parting; please, please don’t be roped in to believing that the arts are not as important as other ‘more practical’ degrees such as the sciences. Aside from what I have rambled on about above, a life without the arts would be a very dull life indeed.