The heads of agreement regarding a proposed merger between the University of Sydney‘s Sydney College of the Arts and the University of New South Wales Art & Design faculty was terminated by USyd Vice-Chancellor Dr. Michael Spence earlier this week.
In an email sent out to students, Dr. Spence said that the “two institutions have a different vision of what a centre of excellence in the visual arts might entail”, and that he was not confident that this could be reconciled before the proposed 2017 start date. He expressed particular concerns regarding the quality of the facilities that would be available to students, and the ability to which the SCA would be able to preserve its “distinctive tradition” in its proposed guise.
Had the merger been successful, students from the SCA would have been transferred to the Art & Design faculty of UNSW, leaving the historic Kirkbride location that has been home to the college for the last two decades.
It was a proposal that sparked outrage when it was announced in June, with students worried about the effect it would have on their studies. In a Sydney Morning Herald article published at the time, a representative from the student council described the merger as “either a downsize or the end of visual arts at the University of Sydney”.
Dr. Spence was frank about the challenges the SCA and the University of Sydney as a whole will face in backing out of the proposal. Most immediately, the SCA will become part of the university’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, with a move to the Camperdown/Darlington Campus also on the cards from early 2017.
Current students, and those looking to enrol in certain programmes in 2017, are, at present, unaffected.