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Oz woes: Queensland Con comes clean, ANU’s still in dumps

After weeks of whispers and anxieties, the Director of the Queensland Conservatorium Huib Schippers, has confirmed, in a mail to Slipped Disc (below), that he is leaving his position and reverting to his former post in research. That’s quite a relief and, as he points out, a stark contrast from the wretched situation in the nation’s capital.

The latest at the Australian National University is that it has gone on a round of panic charity-raising to save its stumbling school of music. The Canberra Times   reports officials as being quite confident that they can sustain one-on-one music teaching the the next year, at least. One way or other, ANU’s reputation is not what it was.

Dear Norman,

Rumours of my vanishing have been greatly exaggerated. I will be stepping sideways in Queensland Conservatorium from 1 August to devote a little more time to my passion for research and -believe to or not- making music. Unlike the deplorable situation in Canberra, I feel I’m leaving behind a very vibrant conservatoire with a fabulous executive team and strong support from Griffith University. We’re communicating this carefully planned and timed transition calmly to the various people involved. Thought staff, students and the organisations we work with should know first. Nice rumour, though; makes me feel quite important :-)


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  1. Peter Young says:

    The Canberra music community needs to be very cautious about this latest development. One of the ANU bean counters was on the radio today saying how ‘fantastic’ all the feedback was, and there is indeed an agreement to work with business so it can raise the money (no sign that the ANU itself, with its $14m surplus last year, feels any obligation to put another dollar in itself). Note that ‘there would be no change to the proposal in terms of 10 job losses across the 32 permanent academic and administrative staff’. They are clear that staff numbers will still be cut, and now if things go wrong, the ANU has someone else to blame – the business community.

    And the South China Morning Post has reported that Prof Walter’s Hong Kong appointment went through on 17 April, two weeks before he announced (and supported) the curriculum changes.He and the ANU still haven’t bothered to make any public explanation although it is understood he has returned from leave and made himself available (by email) to staff. Interestingly when he took his sudden leave he appeared in Hong Kong the next day. (The HK Academy is now being a bit defensive, saying they weren’t really aware of the controversy in Canberra before they made the appointment.)

  2. Ben Kremer says:

    I concur. Nothing has improved at the ANU; they are still slashing 10 music staff, rejecting quality, and outsourcing music instruction. The glorious party announcement reads like disinformation to dupe the passionate students and citizens into thinking they are now doing good. What they want is for everyone to shut up so they can quickly drag certain members of faculty into a field and shoot them in the head before they express more dissent. This is scaring me more than I care to admit.

  3. John Koen says:

    I’m confused by this part:
    “officials as being quite confident that they can sustain one-on-one music teaching the the next year, at least.”
    How much ‘individual tuition’ (private lessons) were the students receiving? If ‘halving’ results in less than an hour-long lesson per week, the students won’t turn out well or indeed, arrive at anything resembling a professional level of competence. That’s simply the standard to achieve competitive quality in this very competitive profession (singing dogs in Britain aside).

    • Ben Kremer says:

      This is reference to ANU undertaking that its current performance students will be able to complete their degree. The quality of the teachers does not come into it. A core team of high quality in house specialist teachers gives it’s students more than hourly lessons of whatever number. They are a rich resource for mentoring and creative collaboration. They bring a diversity of artistic, technical, educative and intellectual approaches to the community of inquiry to which a music student belongs. A voucher for 6 or 12 lessons from a single external teacher is no substitute for the collegiate environment of a music school. Again the university can see only numbers.

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