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Response to AQA’s decision to axe the GCE A and AS level in History of Art

We deeply regret the decision by AQA to cease to offer the GCE A and AS level in History of Art. While an A level in the subject is not necessary to study History of Art at Cambridge – we welcome candidates from multiple different academic backgrounds – we find the erasure of the subject from Britain’s schools incomprehensible. Any development which results in a lessening of choice for school students is to be deplored, as the ability to explore new areas of activity enables students to reach their potential and make their fullest possible contribution to local and civic life.

The cultural and creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest selling points – as well as a mighty economic engine – and require expertise in the history and theory of art and architecture to survive. Nor are they the only professions which require the skills that art historians acquire. With advertising, television, cinema, social media and the internet, the world has never been more visual, and the ability to interpret and contextualise a visual object or image has never been more important. In developing this ability to a highly sophisticated level, art historians have unique skills that are essential to many walks of academic, professional and public life. Art history is a rigorous, ambitious and highly vocational subject which should be open to students of every background, and celebrated as an essential tool to enable greater understanding of cultural life in both the UK and abroad.

The Department of History of Art at Cambridge is committed to running inspiring access and information events for prospective students throughout the year. For further information, please see: http://www.hoart.cam.ac.uk/outreach

Rosalind P. Blakesley

Head of the Department of History of Art