ANU School of Music

Significant changes to the ANU Bachelor of Music are proposed for the start of 2013.

Announced jointly by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, and School of Music Head Professor Adrian Walter, the proposed program aims to be more flexible, more connected with the community and offer more student choice.

Under the proposed new model students can, for the first time, receive academic credit for contributions to musical activities in Canberra and beyond. ANU will also build on the already significant technological advances that connect students with master classes, other students and innovations at world-class music schools, across Australia and overseas.

This curriculum refresh has been in the making for the past three years, but has been accelerated by financial circumstances. The proposal suggests a model that is financially sustainable.

The 2011 Lomax-Smith review of higher education funding confirmed that government funding does not cover the costs of one to one music tuition, let alone buying instruments or providing appropriate teaching rooms.

Change is essential if music is to survive at a tertiary level here and across the rest of the sector.

The ANU School of Music has taken a creative and comprehensive approach to regeneration and devised what I believe will be a sector-leading curriculum model.

I would like to thank Professor Adrian Walter and his team for their intense and considered approach to the identification of educational options. His leadership in recent intense weeks, but also over 3 years of this curriculum change and review, has put ANU in the best possible position to adapt to present circumstances.

The revitalised program will strengthen opportunities for students to develop skills needed across a range of music jobs. Other unique features are proposed as well:

  • a Professional Development Allowance (PDA) that will be allocated to students, allowing them to choose between specialist one-to-one tuition, attending a summer course, master class or conference, or learning a new piece of music software, and
  • real-time, video-linked lessons and sessions.

I understand that these changes will cause significant stress and disruption for staff.

A change management process will run alongside the new curriculum, to ensure that staff and student needs are met. A smaller group of staff will be required to run the new offerings. To achieve this reduction all academic and general staff positions in the School of Music will be declared vacant, and applications invited for the new positions.

Existing staff have the option to apply before outside applications are invited. Those who do not secure a position, or who choose not to apply for one, will be paid their full entitlements.

Importantly we also guarantee that existing students will be able to finish the degree they started, with arrangements made to ensure they can complete.

Information sessions for staff and students will be run in coming weeks to discuss the changes and how they impact on individuals.


Comment by John
May 11, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

I do not know enough about the operation or finances of the ANU (or the School of Music) to comment on what could have been done to avoid this terrible situation. I do know that the measure of a creative institution MUST be the quality of the services it provides and the students it produces.

I seriously question whether the loss of one on one tuition, or the addition of ‘video-conferencing’ will improve either.

I also know – as does any person practicing in a creative field – that creative institutions are rarely (if ever) financially viable. The cost of making the School of Music a viable financial concern for the ANU will almost certainly be too high, the result to the community being a loss of cultural capital.

I would far rather live with a first rate School of Music operating at a loss (and subsidised), than a mediochre School of Music which barely breaks even.

I must also add that my heart goes out to ALL of the staff at the SoM. I cannot imagine the distress and upheaval this has caused them.

Comment by Dr June R Verrier
May 15, 2012 @ 9:36 am

Given that these changes will mean, among other things, that Canberra will be the only capital city in the western world without a full time instrumental music school, you should be ashamed of yourself. Yes, there is elitism, almost inevitably, and disproportionate cost, just as there is at the top end of the sciences. But a civilised society supports all these endeavours. Why not focus the effort on new ways to fund something that can never fund itself – and go to the Gina Rhinehearts of this world for support.

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Updated:  16 May 2012/ Responsible Officer:  Director, SCAPA/ Page Contact:  Director, SCAPA