Embarrassed University Management Backs Down From Closure of Art School


Vice-Chancellor Spence backed down early this afternoon from the proposed merger of the Sydney College of Arts (SCA) into UNSW Arts and Design (UNSWAD), following sustained student and community pressure on their proposed closure.

This marks the first success of the Let SCA Stay campaign in opposing the University of Sydney’s plan to close the Callan Park campus in Rozelle. Spence said that the University has instead, decided to move SCA to the Camperdown/Darlington campus from the beginning of 2017.

200 students from SCA met and resolved to oppose any plan of the University of Sydney that involves cuts to courses, staff, or student numbers. The “Let SCA Stay” campaign is defending the value of studio-based contemporary art education and practice, which is enabled by the unique facilities and expert staff of the Callan Park campus.

Tamara Voninski, a PhD candidate at SCA, said, “We stopped the University from closing our campus and the next fight is to make sure we can stay at Callan Park with our studios and staff.”

Jemima Wilson, a Bachelor of Visual Arts student, said, “The email today was a victory in one sense in that we embarrassed the University and we saw the power of people to create change. This is more motivation to keep fighting. The dissolution of the Heads of Agreement will not placate us and we will continue to fight to keep SCA at Callan Park.”

Alex Nixon, Vice-President of Sydney University Postgraduate Research Association (SUPRA), said, “While the announcement today delivered a sense of victory at this stage of the campaign, the campaign is not yet over. SUPRA supports the Let SCA Stay campaign unequivocally and opposes senior University management to move the art school to its Camperdown campus where the unique SCA approach to Visual Arts education is at huge risk.”

Michael Thomson, Sydney University NTEU Branch President, said, “The NTEU welcomes this decision to drop the amalgamation proposal with UNSW. We call upon the University to let SCA stay at Callan park and we congratulate everyone who has been part of this campaign for the first win of the campaign.”

Grant Wheeler, Sydney University CPSU Branch President, said, “The University continues its illogical arguments. We were told that a merger with UNSW was best for the arts in NSW. And now, apparently, squeezing SCA into much smaller, non-purpose-built building space with much reduced facilities is best. SCA must stay at Callan Park.”

Dylan Griffiths, Education Officer of the Student’s Representative Council, said, “The campaign has pressured management out of the Heads of Agreement. We will continue to oppose any move that places staff, studio space, and facilities at jeopardy.”

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