Posted on 23 Apr '24

Discipline Deep Dive - UK Arts & Humanities PGT

Of the various PGT discipline areas, Arts and Humanities is the one that immediately catches my eye with its sheer variety of subject titles. It’s a broad landscape, attracting an audience with a diverse range of interests, from the specialist and esoteric (an MA in Sacred Music, anyone?) to the specific and vocational (how about Visualization for Film and TV Production?). This field is also one of the most innovative, as the vast range of options within the Digital Humanities demonstrates.

But which of those areas garner the most interest, and who exactly are their prospective students? Where do they come from? And how do their study preferences compare to that of the general PGT audience?

Using our Share of Search and Pulse data, we seek to answer those questions to provide a detailed look at the state of the UK PGT Arts and Humanities discipline as we enter Q2 2024.

Year-on-Year Growth

Arts and Humanities accounts for around 15% of total PGT searches in Q1. That places it as the fourth most popular discipline area, sandwiched between Healthcare and Medicine (18%) and Business and Professional (14%).

These figures hold true when we narrow our search criteria into those made by prospective domestic students and those made by prospective international students. There is a noticeable change, however, when we look into the year-on-year growth from each audience.

Here, we can see that the overall interest in Arts and Humanities courses has grown about 3% compared to Q1 2023. That again places it fourth out of all disciplines.

Interestingly, though, this growth has been heavily driven by our international audience. While domestic interest has remained relatively flat compared to the previous year, the share of searches from our international audience has risen by over 4%. This makes Arts and Humanities the second fastest growing discipline for prospective international students, ahead of Healthcare and Medicine (4%) and just behind Computer Sciences (5%).

A Stable International Audience

As we well know, international interest in UK PGT has hit somewhat of a stumbling block in recent months. New immigration policies have correlated with a notable downtick in interest from audiences such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria, that had previously seen strong enrolment growth.

It’s not all bad news, however. International interest from Europe and Asia (excluding India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) has seen a spike during this same time span, and these positive trends would appear to be benefitting the Arts and Humanities discipline as much as they are any other.

Looking at the international interest in all UK PGT subject areas, we find that around 46% comes from regions that are growing. If we drill down into Arts and Humanities, that number jumps to 59%.

Additionally, interest from the regions whose interest has been most heavily hit by recent policy changes (South Asia and Africa) make up 41% of the overall interest in UK PGT, but only 20% of the interest in Arts and Humanities courses. This suggests the Arts and Humanities discipline area has a very stable international audience, one well placed to face the difficulties being experienced elsewhere.

Prospective Student Preferences

Having looked at international audiences and found some positive signals, let’s explore the data for domestic study and see what’s distinctive about this audience.

The first thing to note is that the domestic audience for Arts and Humanities is the oldest of any discipline area. Over 60% of prospective domestic students are aged 45 or over, compared to just over 40% when looking at all course interest. Many of these students may therefore be mid-to-late career professionals and so it comes as no surprise that they are 5% more likely to seek flexible delivery methods (either fully online courses or blended learning) and 11% more likely to look for part-time courses.

Their motivations for seeking PGT study also differ from overall trends. They are 13% more likely to value subject interest and 8% more likely to value challenge, while being less likely to be motivated by career progress (-14%), earnings (-11%) and career entry (-6%).

As with all audiences, their largest concern about pursing post graduate study is cost and they are 4% more likely to list cost as a concern than the average UK PGT course seeker. The same is also true of the concern regarding having enough time to undertake PGT. This is perhaps unsurprising, given what we know of the demographic and their motivations.

Subject Watch

By comparing the specialism interests from Q1 2024 to Q1 2023, we see that it is the more practical courses that are growing in interest. There is, however, a marked difference in the type of practical specialisms that are growing between the domestic and international audiences.

The domestic audience are increasingly keen on more creatives endeavors, such as Fine Art, Film Production, and Film & Photography, which has seen their largest YoY growth. While the international audience are more interested in more structured courses, such as Architecture and Fine Art Conservation. They have, however, also seen a huge spike in interest for Theatre Studies. Oh and if you’re wondering about the interest in Sacred Music, it’s risen by a healthy 10%.

In terms of the most popular specialisms overall, Architecture sits atop the list having grown slightly since last year. Urban Planning, conversely, has seen quite a significant fall in interest and finds itself having been replaced as the most popular subject.

Creative Writing has seen slightly less interest this year but still remains strong overall (and is the top subject for domestic audiences). Total interest in Design and Music based courses is also down, but only slightly, and interest has risen by a similarly fine margin for Fine Art and English Literature & Language.

Key Takeaways

  • Interest is strong from relatively stable international audiences, while share of domestic search is also growing, if at a slower rate.
  • The domestic audience is generally older than other discipline areas and more motivated by personal fulfillment than career related goals.
  • The popularity of individual specialisms is fairly stable, though growth differs between the domestic and international audiences.

Anything Missing?

This page is intended to be a snapshot of the current size and shape of UK PGT Arts and Humanities audiences based on thousands of data points drawn from actively searching audiences across our platforms. If there's something else you think it should cover, something that isn't clear or something you have a question about, please let us know.

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