‘Broadway dream’ flattened by student financial struggles

It is this time of year where performing arts students wait to hear responses from their chosen performing colleges. What most people do not know is that it is not just as simple as being accepted to your chosen course, but in fact there is a whole new level of stress over how this education can be funded.

A lot of performing arts courses are private, which means that you cannot receive a full student finance package. Then there is the other problem of oversees finances. Going to a university/college oversees poses a whole new set of funding issues, meaning that some people are left with the joy of being accepted, but knowing that they will never be able to afford to go.

Grace Carroll

Grace Carroll, 19 from Medway, Kent currently is studying a Level 4 Diploma in Musical Theatre at Reynolds Performing Arts. Over the past few months Grace has been applying for several performing arts degrees, including Guilford School of Acting, Bristol Institute of Performing Arts, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Performers College, Bird College and Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts.

The process of auditions at the moment is very different due to Corona Virus and now consists of sending off video tapes to a panel, who will determine whether you have been successful.

Grace said: “I’ve always dreamed of going to New York and living the ‘Broadway dream’ so somewhere like AMDA really appealed to me and at the time of applying, I saw it as more of a ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if I got in’ situation rather than putting all my faith in this one application.”

The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) is a college based in New York and Los Angeles and they provide “world-class training” to all of their students. This college was not something that Grace even deemed possible when she auditioned, but now she has been faced with receiving an acceptance but not being able to go because of the high education fees.

“I was offered a small scholarship of $8000 which I was extremely grateful for, but this wasn’t even a 20% scholarship. If the course had been fully funded or there was a way for me to apply for a student loan, I would have definitely taken my degree at AMDA,” she said.

According to the House of Commons Library “in 2019/20 there were 538,600 overseas students studying at UK universities” making up 22% of the student population. This number increases each year with 2019/20 seeing a new high of 307,800 international students.

Many students are left feeling deflated that they cannot attend their “dream” courses just because they do not have the funds.

Grace said that she thinks more should be done for students who want to pursue performing arts, especially international students. “I think if a college is offering a degree course, the price to study that course should, at maximum, be the £9,250 that is covered by student finance. As well as this, students who aren’t on a degree course should be able to access funding similar to a student loan, “she said.

Now Grace will have to pick one of her other options and put aside her dream of attending a college in New York, for an alternative degree which can be covered by student finance loans.

Click here to read a document about some information for students thinking about privately-funded universities or colleges.

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