Dr Naomi Bath's speech from the APPG for Music Education on 16 October 2019

Read the speech from Dr Naomi Bath, the ISM's Senior Research and Policy Officer, on the impact of Brexit on music education from the APPG for Music Education on 16 October below:

I’d like to begin by giving some context as to why the inescapable topic of Brexit has made its way into the APPG for Music Education.

In my role at the ISM leading on research and policy, the two main areas I work on are music education, and the impact of Brexit on the music profession. I used to view these policy areas as discrete topics, but in fact, they are deeply intertwined. In both contexts, music is under threat.

We know from this APPG’s report State of the Nation, co-authored with the ISM and the University of Sussex, that music education in state schools is in serious decline due to the EBacc and other accountability measures. We know from ISM research that Brexit is already having a significant impact on the lives of professional musicians. We also know how valuable the music industry is to the UK economy – some £4.5bn per year.

It is clear that as both music education and the music profession are being squeezed, our talent pipeline is in jeopardy.

Given the timing of this APPG, I want to explore today some of the ways that Brexit might affect music education in the UK.

The ISM has been engaging with DCMS on many of the issues I’m about to raise, and how Brexit will affect the music sector more broadly. DCMS is the conduit for other Government departments, and colleagues there have taken ISM concerns to the Home Office, HMRC, DEFRA and the Department for Health. DCMS is keen to hear what’s happening on the ground and the ISM is happy to pass on any concerns from the room, so I hope this speech can act as a springboard for discussion afterwards.

Looking first at how the musical education of school-age students in the UK might be affected by Brexit, of serious concern is the future of touring to the EU for youth orchestras, choirs, and bands.

Music tours for youth groups from schools and music services provide rich opportunities for cultural exchange. They encourage the ambitions of young musicians. They give them valuable experience of performing to different audiences. I personally benefitted from several youth orchestra tours to Italy, France and Germany as a young violinist.

Brexit threatens these opportunities. A no-deal Brexit, in particular, would cause significant problems and in some cases make touring financially unviable. School groups travelling over half term in the coming weeks are very concerned about whether their tour can go ahead as planned.

Whilst the latest Government advice indicates that school groups should be able to travel to the EU in a no-deal Brexit, there are still complications for schools when it comes to travelling. For example, it is unknown whether EU immigration officials will continue to recognise the List of Travellers scheme – a visa waiver scheme for schools if there are non-EU students in the group.

Schools have received contradictory advice from Government and local authorities when it comes to the transportation of instruments and equipment to the EU. Some schools have been told to register for an EORI number in order to use the National Export System. Others have been advised to make oral declarations at the border or to purchase carnets, which are expensive.

If instruments contain endangered materials on the CITES list such as ivory, rosewood, and tortoiseshell, they are even more difficult to transport. Instruments like guitars, clarinets, and violin bows may require a Musical Instrument Certificate to satisfy customs officials at the border. There will also be restrictions on which ports and airports these instruments can travel through. Until very recently, Dover, Eurotunnel, Holyhead and Belfast Seaport were not on the list of CITES-designated ports in a no-deal Brexit. However, due to ISM pressure, these have now been included on the list – though crucially, Eurostar has not.

The end of the EHIC scheme would mean schools or parents needing to purchase private travel insurance that includes health cover. Additional road and licensing regulations for drivers of coaches and lorries would also inflate costs. Schools that exchange the personal data of students with EU counterparts would need to amend existing contracts to ensure they are data-compliant.

The upshot of these myriad processes is that they would generate so much additional cost and documentation, that for many schools and music services, it would become impossible to tour in the EU. This would rob our young musicians of vital cultural experiences, narrowing their horizons instead of broadening them.

Staying with the same age range but looking to school students from across the channel, what happens to the future intake of EU students to the UK’s specialist music schools? England’s four specialist music schools - Purcell, Menuhin, Chetham’s and Wells – benefit from the Music and Dance Scheme, which is funded by the DfE.

The Scheme provides grants towards the school’s tuition fees, not only to students from the UK aged 8-19 but also to students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland over the age of 16. However, the future for the Music and Dance scheme is unknown beyond September 2020. Without this funding, fewer EU students would come to specialist music schools, which would have a knock-on effect on the number of applicants to UK conservatoires.

Turning to Higher Education, the future intake of EU students to the UK’s conservatoires and universities is also at stake.

According to research by Universities UK conducted last month, 34% of universities believe that student recruitment would be impacted most by a no-deal Brexit.

Whilst the Government has announced that fees and student loans for EU students starting in autumn 2019 or 2020 will continue, there is a big question mark hanging over what happens from September 2021. If EU students are treated as ‘overseas’ students, they will see their fees jump from around £9,000 per year to over £22,000. If music students from the EU have the choice between fees of over £22,000 in England or less than 1000 EUROs in Germany (which includes a travel card for the whole semester), which do you think they will choose?

According to the Russell Group, there is concern that European Temporary Leave to Remain only lasts for three years, whereas many courses – including BMus courses - last for four. The Russell Group suggests that over a third of EU undergraduates would have to leave Britain before they can finish their courses. Instead, EU students may have to apply for Tier 4 visas. Conservatoires and universities are sceptical though that the Home Office has the capacity to process an influx of applications from 27 additional countries.

Prospective music students from the EU will be deterred from the higher tuition fees, the introduction of visa requirements, and probable exclusion from the Student Loan Book – so the pipeline will be further eroded. This could mean a shortage of applications for certain instruments such as string players and bassoonists. It could also mean a fall in the standard of student performance if there are fewer EU applicants and reduced competition.

We must also think about the music teachers and professors from the EU who work in our schools, Hubs, conservatoires and universities. As employers, we must hold on to our EU staff and do everything we can to protect our workforce.

I’m sure we are all aware of the EU Settlement Scheme and the requirement for EU staff based in the UK to apply for Settled or Pre-Settled Status. For those of you concerned about only being able to scan ID documents with android phones, we understand that the Home Office has recognised this problem and will be launching the service for iPhone in due course.

In conservatoires and specialist music schools particularly, there are many instrumental and vocal professors who live in the EU but fly into the UK to teach a few days a week. They split their time between prestigious UK and EU institutions, often combined with a hectic performing schedule. This portfolio career relies on mobility between countries. The competitive edge of conservatoires for prospective students can rest on the star power of international musicians. If renowned musicians are restricted from teaching, then our conservatoires will become less attractive to students.

Finally, I must make mention of UK-EU collaboration in terms of research and funding.

According to Universities UK, more than a quarter (27%) of universities believe that access to research programmes and funding would be impacted most by a no-deal Brexit. The Select Committee for Exiting the EU said in their report from July this year, that for the UK Higher Education sector, leaving the EU without a deal would cause a short-term shock and longer-term reputational damage from which the sector would struggle to recover.

Whilst it is reassuring on one level that the UK Government agreed back in 2016 to underwrite existing funding commitments for Creative Europe, Erasmus, and Horizon 2020, the future of the UK’s participation in the next phases and funding rounds is very much in doubt.

Beyond access to funding, there are further questions lingering over the heads of academics and cultural organisations. Will EU counterparts want to collaborate and partner with the UK if we become a third country? And what will be the impact of reduced collaboration on the UK’s academic and cultural reputation?

So - bringing this to a close, it seems we have a perfect storm for the future of music in this country. Music is being attacked from every direction – from education in the classroom and in Hubs, to the professional arena, with Brexit restricting how and where musicians can perform.

The ISM is keen to hear from you to make sure we are representing the sector as best we can, so please do share your stories.

Thank you

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