Fine Art degree courses at The Moray School of Art are at risk as the institution battles an “unsustainable deficit”, The Herald has learned.

A spokesperson for UHI Moray has confirmed a consultation is under way that is part of a “financial recovery plan” and “includes adjustments to art provision”. The news was described as “incredibly concerning” by a current student at the institution.

In January, The Herald exclusively revealed that jobs and courses are at risk across UHI Perth, Moray and Shetland, and that the entire model of the University of the Highlands and Islands is coming under scrutiny.

UHI describes Moray School of Art as “one of Scotland's five major art schools” and state that it offers a “vibrant campus” offering courses up to and including degrees. It was also the first art school to be opened in the north of Scotland.

In a statement to The Herald, a spokesperson for UHI Moray said: “UHI Moray are currently consulting on a financial recovery plan and have provided proposals in relation to future curriculum to our recognised trade unions and staff representatives.

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“The curriculum proposal includes adjustments to art provision, but it must be emphasised that this is a consultation process and no firm decisions will be made until that consultation concludes.”

The Herald asked UHI to provide a copy of the consultation proposals, including those affecting the Moray School of Art – the organisation refused to provide this information or to confirm when the consultation is due to end.

However, we were able to obtain a copy of the document, and can confirm that it includes proposals to end delivery of the Fine Art degree at the Moray School of Art.

The document confirms that the financial recovery plan involves “proposed staffing reductions” and cuts to courses. One of these is the Fine Art degree, which will “continue only to complete the programme for current students.”

However, current students at the school have told The Herald that they are being advised that the degree programme may not continue at all, leaving current students anxious about completing their courses and progressing with their careers.

Furthermore, The Herald understands that offers to begin studying the Fine Art degree from August 2024 had already been issued and accepted. In a number of cases, potential students had rejected offers from other institutions in order to take up a place at Moray School of Art.

Earlier this month, Moray School of Art cancelled an art exhibition about the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. The exhibit, named ‘Opening of a Fragile Pot’, was curated by Georgina Porteous, a former student of the institution.

She was one of the first honours graduates of the school in 2008 and told The Herald that her education there “was the highlight of my life”.

“I often talk about my experience at MSA and how much my tutors meant to me. It would be so utterly tragic if it were to close.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “While the 2024-25 Budget is the most challenging to be delivered under devolution, we are continuing to support colleges and universities with nearly £2 billion in the next financial year.”

“Colleges are responsible for their own operational decisions, including course provision, as they are best placed to respond flexibly to emerging trends at local and regional level.