Memo details Adelaide Uni’s planned music cuts

The University of Adelaide’s planned cuts to teaching staff jobs and music courses have been detailed in a leaked memorandum circulating on social media.

The “draft change proposal” memo, sent to music staff by Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts Professor Jennie Shaw earlier this month, shows the university plans to make a dozen staff redundant, and permanently remove their positions from the Elder Conservatorium of Music staff structure.

The cuts will coincide with “the proposed retirement of several staff over the next 12 months”, but three new positions will be created as part of the restructure, the memo says.

All of the courses provided by the university’s pioneering Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) – one of the only dedicated indigenous music educational institutions of its kind in the country – are also proposed to be cut.

The change would remove the Diploma in Aboriginal Studies in Music, the Advanced Diploma in Aboriginal Studies in Music and the Foundation Year Program.

In a statement, an Adelaide University spokesperson said the 31 students currently studying those courses would be allowed to finish them under the proposed changes.

Adelaide University music students are dismayed by the changes, which they say will remove irreplaceable specialist expertise from the faculty and diminish the value of their studies.

“It’s a sad reminder that for a lot of us, there’s not going to be a place for us in Adelaide to do what we do, and perhaps not a place in Australia,” vice president of the Elder Conservatorium Students’ Association Dan Thorpe told InDaily.

“How can our program not be affected in drastic ways by the sacking of staff, and the sacking of such key staff?

“And not just their sacking, but the disestablishment of their positions.

“The Conservatorium has been a home for a long time, and honestly, a lot of (students) feel really betrayed by management.”

Shaw’s memo says the restructure became necessary because of “significant financial difficulties” related to increased competition with other institutions and reductions in state government funding, among other issues.

The proposal would ensure “the Elder Conservatorium of Music can improve in terms of student numbers, financial strength, industry and professional connections and sustainability”.

The university spokesperson said: “Our aim is to provide the best possible educational opportunities and experience for Elder Conservatorium of Music students, and to enable the Conservatorium to contribute to the cultural fabric of our community.

“It’s important to note that the proposals are currently in a consultation phase with staff,” the spokesperson said.