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Students In The Dark as SCA Announces Plans To Retire Rozelle Campus

Naaman Zhou paints a landscape of unrest.


As was originally reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, the university has confirmed its intention to move the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) from its current Rozelle campus within the next three years.

The details of the move are currently unknown and have not been publicly announced to students, a spokesperson for the university was unable to be reached in time. However, a potential merger with University of New South Wales Arts and Design (formerly COFA) and the National Art School has been floated.

At the very least, it is likely the College will be moved onto the Camperdown campus, where the students and staff will be absorbed into a larger faculty.

Current and future students have expressed concerns over the move’s impact on degree progression. In an open letter to the university (which can be viewed below), the SCA Students’ Society demanded clear answers on whether studio facilities would still be available, whether floor area would be lost and if staff levels would drop.

“Many students are anxious about the rumours and ensuing uncertainty”, they said. “Arts students naturally need to consider the institution they invest in…and the quality of our education.”

President of the society, Melissa Baveas, slammed the university for its lack of consultation.

“It’s almost impossible to say if this move is a negative or positive thing. At this point in time, with no transparency, no consultation and no information, staff and students can’t even decide about their own futures”.

“If they don’t know where we’re moving to,” she said, “how can they be proposing a move?”

Honi understands that the Dean of SCA, Colin Rhodes, met with State Greens MP Jamie Parker to discuss the relocation before he met with students.

The move from Rozelle also poses a thorny problem for the incredibly popular Glass and Ceramics departments, which accounts for 50% of the enrolments at SCA, and which relies on the kilns present at the current location. “If the loss of resources has any impact on these subjects”, says Ms Baveas, “we’ll lose half our enrolments for sure”.

Honi also understands that prospective students who are nervous about starting during the transition have contacted SCA administration, who informed them that those starting next year will not be affected. It remains to be seen what that entails.

 As for the proposed merger, Justyna Stanczew, a prospective honours student, said it had the potential to be especially disruptive.

“Arts schools like COFA and NAS are very distinct from the SCA and it’s not that simple to move another system into another arts school. COFA, for example, is heavily design based. Students choose to enrol in these schools precisely because of their difference, their character and in terms of the SCA, the environment of the Rozelle campus.”

A university discussion paper suggests that an “external” solution is the priority and is being investigated. This would rely on negotiations with the NSW state government, which owns the Rozelle site.

The news of the campus’ abandonment comes after a meeting in October, when the heads of the SCA, COFA and the NAS met to discuss “closer association” amidst speculation of the merger. Earlier this year, relations between administration and students frayed when the traditional annual exhibition of postgraduate work was cancelled with little warning.


Open letter

Att: Professor Colin Rhodes

Dear Professor Rhodes

Re: SCA, Callan Park and potential alternate sites under consideration.
Arts students naturally need to carefully consider the institution they invest in and generally have long-term studio and research plans. In a meeting with members of the SCASS committee and independent students at The Hub, the status and proposed changes to Sydney College of the Arts were discussed. There have been several rumours circulating all year about the college site.
We respectfully request that the following questions are answered:

• Can you confirm whether SCA is moving out of Callan Park?
• What is the current status?
• What is the timeline?
• Is a merger with another institution being considered?
• If no, is a merger with another faculty or faculties within USYD being considered?
• What studio based facilities will be available to VA students?
• Will these facilities be shared and under what structure will this sharing be determined?
• How will fair access be ensured?
• What sites are being considered?
• Will students be losing any studio facilities and/or will they match the current set up?
• In terms of floor area, will there be a net gain or loss specifically allocated to VA studies?
• What is the potential student population on the site?
• What is the estimated student enrolment number once the move takes place?
• Is the University planning to decrease its per capita funding allocation?
• Is SCA currently viable?
• Will there be fee implications in terms of semester studio access charges?
• Will there be any changes staffing levels, tech staff and teaching staff per capita.
• What is the allocation for each sculpture student for personal studio space?
• What work space will be available for elective students
• What is the comparative floor space for machine / tool/ student work space in shared areas like glad rooms and workshops.
• Have the terms and parties of the lease between USYD and SCA at Callan Park been changed or revised in any way during the lease period?
• Similarly have the terms of the lease with the State Govt and USYD been amended?
• Has there been consultation with the State Govt regarding the Callan Park Master Plan and is there support for SCA at Govt level?
• What is the SCA position on the Master Plan?
• What is the Dean’s personal position on the Master Plan?
• What is the USYD position on the Master Plan?
• Will any of the following studios have a change in course structure?

A response to the questions would be greatly appreciated by December 3rd prior to the student body breaking for the year please. To ensure the students can resume the business of excellent contemporary art practice with the certainty that the administration has their educational goals and outcomes clear and present at any discussions being tabled with relevant parties.
Many students are anxious about the rumours and ensuing uncertainty. Our main goal is to ensure that there is no diminished quality in our education. Studio based practice and research is the model that the student body support and defend and we would like to satisfy our fellow students that the administration is aligned to this goal.
Moving forward from this correspondence we would ask that, in alignment with the principles stated in the Academic Board Policy on Consultation with Students, that regular meetings between SCASS and the Dean be scheduled in 2016.

Yours faithfully