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Australia National University backs down on plan to sack all music teachers

Denounced in Parliament, demonstrated against  by students and derided across the  music world, the ANU has withdrawn its plans to get rid of 32 music teachers. Professor Adrian Walter, whose idea it was, has disappeared off the face of the hemisphere to take a bigger post in Hong Kong.

The University may need to look at more of his decisions over the past year to make sure Professor Walter had his mind on the day job, not the one across the sea. Here’s more in the Canberra Times.

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Comments

  1. Luciano says:

    Sadly that’s not quite right. The same number of staff will still be sacked, but rather than everybody having to re-apply for positions, people will be ‘weeded out’ instead.

    Apart from that there is no backing down on the plans to adopt the new course with ‘optional’ one to one studies and the staff numbers will still be nearly halved, just as originally proposed.

  2. is also interesting. There are obviously long-standing – & deep seated – financial difficulties; now the level of staffing will drop from 32 to 22. Does this include the Professor? He seems to have recognised the trouble & proposed a drastic solution, having ensured his own safety by jumping not just ship but country. A pity he didn’t act towards resolving the problems at an earlier date.
    I’m pleased that ANU have thought again: perhaps a way can be found for a more sustainable future – can they not seek endowments? There must be ways to fund-raise, surely?

  3. Prof Doug Grant says:

    Clearly music at ANU has been cross-subsidized for some time. A decision has been taken to stop doing so, I presume for strategic reasons. University senior management have the right to make such decisions. Of course it leaves some unhappy, but the Vice Chancellor has to make decisions for the overall best direction for the University. So – sad that music performance loses out, but the real villain is the government for not funding the activity adequately so that it does not need to be cross-subsidized. As a former dean at another university whose faculty consistently had to provide cross subsidy to others, I can say that the performance of my faculty was hindered by doing so. Deciding either to let that happen, or to stop letting it happen is a hard decision. That’s what Vice Chancellors are paid their sizeable salaries to do.

  4. Benjamin says:

    Prof Walter’s job was the only one quarantined from the original mass sackings. As to fundraising, apparently he didn’t bother to tell the School of Music Foundation there was a deficit, or ask it for help to fundraise even- though he was also on its board. Reading what is accessible on his ‘exciting’ curriculum proposal to teach groups by Skype to save on salaries, offering a ridiculously shallow degree program that looks like it will equip a graduate for doing exactly nothing to do with playing music seems like it would have saved costs for a semester before those course enrollments fell off a cliff. Just enough time to escape.

  5. Peter Young says:

    I doubt very much whether it was all his idea. The School of Music’s relationship with ANU has never been easy – they were originally independent and it was pretty much a shotgun wedding.

    One of the staff has quoted Prof Walter at a staff meeting as saying he had opposed the changes (unsuccessfully). Of course he had only a couple of days before supported them at a press conference, and bailed out a couple of days later.

    This is only a small cosmetic backdown based on the ANU needing to comply with industrial relations law. The proposals to drastically reshape the curriculum, including slashing one-to-one teaching, are unchanged. The proposed staff reduction likewise. No sign of any fundamental rethinking from the administration. This one isn’t going away in a hurry.

    • Ben Kremer says:

      The Vice Chancellor roundly congratulated Prof Walter and his team on devising the new curriculum over a period of years, so yes the plan was a group effort. The members of that group are apparently a few musicologists who worked closely with management and against the music performance teachers to develop a model that assured them reappointment even if the jobs spill proceeded. I saw a reference to them as anti-performers. You can identify them by following the stream of self serving chatter when the new curriculum was first announced – and before Prof Walter fled the scene of this train wreck. Bet even the anti-performers didn’t see that one coming! Is clear that music performance teachers and their students oppose the new curriculum, University management love it because it promises more students through lower entry requirements and fewer staffing costs, and one or more of the anti-performers who dream of becoming a Dean will (foolishly) rise up to fill the power vacuum left by their fearless (ex) leader.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Let us also remember that Prof Walters has done a lot of good for the school. In 2008 we were about to be shut down and he came along and bailed us out and implemented an innovative degree, giving the SoM a new lease of life.

    Also, the degree restructuring was Jonathon Powles’ idea, not Prof Walters.

    • Siew Erh says:

      So who is Jonathon Powles and why did he give Prof Walter the idea to restructure the course?

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