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Australian National University sacks all its music teachers

It has been announced in Canberra that ‘all academic and general staff positions’ at the school of music are to ‘fall vacant’ at the end of the year. That means the dismissal of 32 music teachers.

ANU vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Young, says this will introduce a ‘more flexible, more connected’ degree in music, while admitting that the sackings have been made for financial reasons. ANU school of music loses A$2.7 million  year.

Here‘s a report in the local newspaper. The outrage is spreading nationally, and beyond. There is a National Academy of Music in Melbourne, also in deep trouble when I was last there. Without proper music schools, Australian talent will have to flee the country to be trained.

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  1. ANAM “also in deep trouble”? Are you referring to old problems, now resolved, or do you know something we don’t know?

    • possibly the old ones. if resolved, very happy to hear it.

      • Nick Bailey says:

        Very pleased to say DEFINITELY the old ones! ANAM has never been in a stronger position, with new programs and partnerships, amazing students and a roster of guest faculty/artists to rival any concert giving organisation (including Simone Young, Pekka Kuusisto, Daniel Harding, Richard Tognetti, Paul Kelly, Anthony Marwood, Eddie Perfect, Steve Davislim, Steven Osborne, the Brodsky Quartet, Michael Collins, etc etc etc). gives a sense of the confidence and ambition of the place.
        Nick Bailey, ANAM General Manager

        • Yes, and the brochure is FABULOUS! But is it true that you paid Thomas Ades $30,000 for a days work, and yet ANAM can’t find the money to pay staff accompanists?

  2. Nick Cowall says:

    and here is the transcript sent to staff letting them know of their sacking:

  3. Luciano says:

    Hmmm…. a music school without one to one tuition….

  4. Prof Doug Grant says:

    Prof Young was an outstanding VC at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. He is a thoughtful Non-confrontational manager. Universities have to manage within their means. Sometimes that means confronting unmanageable historical structures and staffing levels. Ultimately if music education suffers, the blame may have to be shot home to government for inadequate funding rather than blaming the University.

  5. José Bergher says:

    I believe the letter S is missing in the initials of the so-called university. The complete initials should be ANUS.

  6. Peter Young says:

    In this case, ‘non-confrontational’ seems to mean totally failing to consult the staff on why a curriculum which basically gets rid of face to face teaching of elite musicians by resident staff could possibly be a good idea. As I understand it a ‘policy document’ was dropped on everyone at a meeting. For more news, see Facebook page ‘ANU School of Music – Save Your Degree’.

  7. tgjolley says:

    there is a crisis in Australian universities that affects more than music faculties, fees and charges are at record levels and yet teaching has not kept up with contemporary conditions.

  8. Luciano says:

    Prof Grant – Being a thoughtful manager is great, but unless you have some expertise in the area you are dealing with, the act of thinking may not get you very far, and from his statement Prof Young clearly knows nothing about music. How the current Head of Music can stand by this and say it’s a good idea is beyond me. He should be ashamed.

    There are so many holes in the proposed plan that one really doesn’t know where to start. For one thing – do they really think that you can teach music at a graduate level over skype!? Clearly one of the fundamentals of our art is tone production. There will never be any kind of substitute for being in the same room as the student. And to try and dress the whole thing up as some kind of positive – there are no positives! It seems they want to dumb the music school down to the point of absolute irrelevance.

    That’s not even mentioning the disgraceful treatment of the staff.

  9. Helen Tuckey says:

    Every university and tertiary music department in Australia faces the same reality sooner or later, due to flaws caused by the HECS funding system which requires students to pay back their tertiary education via a loan system. Students are surviving largely due to their own private funding of their needs during tertiary education, and often by taking on outside jobs (often meaning longer time to graduate). There are different levels of HECs funding bands – not sure based on what, but may well have been the ability to pay back a bigger or smaller loan. Hence, in Band 1, we see law, medicine, dentisty etc, other subjects in Band 2 and the Arts are in Band 3. This system came in about 10 years ago (?) and the reality is that a viable music education needs the same funding level and investment as dentistry (just like dentists, musicians need to be trained partly with the 1 – 1 lecturer ratio). Dentistry is in Band 1 funding, Music has been lumped in with Arts and is in Band 3, along with subjects such as history and foreign languages, where lectures can be given to 500 at once.

    Even in today’s music degrees, individual contact hours have dropped and the quality of support is much lower here than it was 30 years ago – fewer, shorter individual lessons, hardly any chamber music coaching, virtually no provision for instrumentalists and singers to learn their repertoire in context of piano accompaniment, for starters. In some ways, ANAM would not have been necessary, if the tertiary sector hadn’t been allowed to wither to the extent it has been allowed. Simple solution – return to our previous free quality tertiary education!

  10. Luciano says:

    And thankyou Norman for giving some exposure to the Australian NATIONAL University’s attitude to music.

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