University of the Arts London (UAL) has announced a consultation on its intention to close the current acting provision at Central Saint Martins. This follows a review of actor training in the context of UAL’s overall Performance strategy.
Courses under consideration for closure are: Foundation Studies in Performance, BA Acting and its associated course, MA Directing; and MA Acting; MA Screen: Acting; and MA Screen: Directing. Consultations with those affected by the intention to close will be run in line with the UAL Course Closure Policy.
All courses subject to the course closure process will continue for currently enrolled students. Our focus is on continuing to deliver an excellent experience for all current acting students, We will continue to deliver the courses in full and as per the validated course handbooks and will consult with students during the course closure process to identify any specific arrangements necessary to support their ongoing studies.
UAL remains committed to the future of Performance at Central Saint Martins as well as to the role of Wimbledon College of Arts as a Performance college.
The review of actor training included an independent report into the cultural and pedagogic context for acting students; the robustness of quality assurance monitoring and action planning; and management actions taken in relation to incidents of conflict and complaint. A viability assessment was also undertaken as part of the process.
The conclusions of the UAL review of actor training include:
- The ethos of the main acting courses differs significantly and enduringly from the pedagogy and values of UAL and contemporary creative arts education.
- Significant compliance issues across the acting courses, including resistance in the area to fully engage with institutional processes and standard methods and approaches to Higher Education academic development and quality assurance.
- Students are not equally supported due to issues relating to the audition and selection process, level of course fees, limited availability of additional funding though grants and bursaries, and there are issues relating to equality balance in both student and staff groups.
- Data and records relating to complaints, appeals and extenuating circumstances suggest that these processes are well managed, but present a clear and worrying picture of issues and conflict that have arisen within the acting courses over the past 3 years.
- High levels of subsidy amounting to £0.74m/a across the acting courses – this includes a subsidy of c£9,000/a per undergraduate acting student on top of the fee income generated.
The findings of the review led the university to believe that the acting provision at Central Saint Martins is unsustainable in its current form and unable to be sufficiently aligned with the pedagogy and values of UAL through revalidation.
Jeremy Till, Head of Central Saint Martins and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the Arts, said:
“The decision to close any course is not taken lightly and we understand the unique place these acting courses had historically occupied within the sector. After conducting a comprehensive review, which included commissioning an independent report, the University concluded that the current model for actor training at CSM was unsustainable and could not be realigned with the ethos and values of the University. All students on the courses proposed for closure will continue to be taught to the high standard we all expect and as per their course handbook. After we have completed the closure process we will reflect and consult with our industry partners on the potential model for future performance courses at CSM”