It might have been indirect but one of Rishi Sunak’s early pre-election attempts to woo voters expressed a desire to force universities to cut courses.

Following his recent pattern of warring and culture, the Prime Minister has decided that the only way to evaluate university education is by estimating the salaries that students will receive when they graduate. Predictably, his conclusion was that unless a university course was likely to lead to jobs paying high salaries, they weren’t worth pursuing.

Instead, he planned to cut many unspecified courses and use the savings to introduce more apprenticeships. One can easily conclude that this was an indictment of his government’s Apprenticeship Levy scheme, which some might argue was implemented more as a stealth tax than a means of boosting the numbers of apprentices.

It is a sad fact of life that workers in the arts are badly paid, if paid at all. In the theatre, many actors are unemployed for long periods and, when working, earn little more than a subsistence wage. Backstage, there might be greater job security but pay is also woeful. Therefore, any university courses that lead to careers in the theatre must fall slap bang in the middle of the target, and the same applies across the cultural landscape.

Before getting on to our own sector, one might note that if Mr Sunak follows his instincts to the extreme, then courses developing careers for junior doctors, nurses and teachers might all bite the dust, since pay in each of these professions is inexplicably low, although the unions would argue that this owes much to government policy. Instead, we will become a nation of plumbers and train drivers, both of whom earn considerably more, if political pronouncements are to be believed.

Conservative governments of the last decade and more have had a consistent blind spot when it comes to the benefits offered to the country by artistic endeavour. While the average actor struggles to pay the rent and occasionally even stave off starvation, anyone watching American movies will almost certainly notice that one or more of the leading actors is British. The same goes for writers and directors, most of whom have honed their skills in and around the British stage. Therefore, the latest proposal is a typical example of attempting to cut costs irrationally, which will backfire in the long term, when exports and taxation receipts diminish.

The government’s stance follows a pattern, since it is also so keen to cut arts education, once again blind to the economic benefits, let alone the societal and human advantages that so many derive from the courses and then careers to which they lead.

Provisional figures published by the exams regulator Ofqual demonstrate that there has been a 5.8% reduction in entries for drama A-level, while performing arts is down 3.1% at GCSE, leading Paul Whiteman, general secretary at the NAHT school leaders’ union to comment, “the government has used high-stakes performance measures as a blunt tool to drive curriculum and qualification choices in schools”.

If Rishi Sunak were really serious about analysing university courses that have been most damaging to the economy, he might decide that it would be wise to close down PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) at Oxford and equivalent courses at other major universities, given that they have peopled a series of governments intent on economic disaster, not to mention training so many of those bankers who brought the world to the brink of catastrophe in 2008.

To be fair, Rishi Sunak seems to be firing off policies with gay abandon, apparently safe in the knowledge that none of them will be implemented given that even he no longer seems to believe that the Conservative Party will be in office beyond America’s Independence Day.

If by any chance he is wrong, both the short and long term futures for the arts look irredeemably bleak.