Victorian College of the Arts students have stepped up their campaign against a controversial decision to introduce compulsory academic-based degrees.
Student campaigners are midway through -˜Save the VCA Week’ which kicked off last Sunday at Melbourne University’s Open Day to draw attention to the proposed Melbourne Model. Opponents say the model will destroy the artistic integrity of the VCA.
Students will march in protest on Friday, August 21 with a public rally, including addresses from stage and television writer and Gay and Lesbian Chorus patron John Michael Howson, SBS Rockwiz host Julia Zemiro and former Victorian arts minister Race Mathews.
Second-year drama student Zoe Boesen told Southern Star students were angry about course changes which, under the new model, mean visual and performing arts, film, television and production students will need to undertake a three-year general bachelor degree before a two-year post-grad specialist degree in their chosen field.
-œI came to VCA to be an actor, not do a three-year academic degree, Boesen said.
Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush threw his support behind the campaign earlier this month.
-œPlease let’s not allow our future artists’ potential to be diminished. Let their work be practical, challenging and profound, not chiefly academic, Rush said.
-œAnd don’t allow their creative education to start from a point of compromise and mediocrity.
Boesen said students feel there has not been enough communication from the university’s Faculty of VCA and Music, resulting in uncertainty and rumour.
-œCommunication has been one of the biggest problems since this started. There have been rumours flying around about staff job cuts and what the model means for VCA students, she said.  -œWe’ve taken it upon ourselves to dig out the facts.
Some of the facts dug up earlier this month include a leaked business report detailing heavy job losses for VCA staff in 2010.
According to Boesen and fellow students, staff have been instructed not to speak to the media and to -œpacify students about changes and potential staff retrenchment.
An email from the Faculty was sent to students ahead of an all-schools meeting recently, reassuring students that VCA courses would continue at a high standard.
There have been ongoing tensions since the VCA formally merged with Melbourne University over two years ago.
There was an outcry in arts circles when it was announced recently the new musical theatre course and puppetry course -” the only one of its kind in Australia -” were to be suspended as part of the restructure.
VCA staff have in the past supported the Victorian AIDS Council’s Hats Off fundraising event.


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