The University of Sydney decided to terminate plans to merge its Sydney College of the Arts with the University of NSW following opposition from students, staff and the arts community. The university’s vice-chancellor Michael Spence made the announcement on Thursday, reasoning the two university’s different artistic visions behind the decision.
“It has always been our position that we ought not to proceed with the proposed merger unless we were clear that the vision for a centre of excellence was achievable and would benefit both the University and visual arts teaching and research,” Spence told students of the Sydney College of the Arts in an email. “However, as the process has continued, the University of Sydney has increasingly come to the view that despite the best efforts of all involved, our two institutions have a different vision of what a centre of excellence in the visual arts might entail and the extent to which it is important to preserve the SCA’s distinctive tradition.”
The students were elated over the announcement but they are still apprehensive of the move, confirmed last year, from Callan Park in Rozelle to the university’s main campus in Camperdown/Darlington in 2017. Tamara Voninski, a PhD student at SCA, says that the next fight is to make sure that the Sydney College of the Arts can stay at Callan Park with their studios and staff.
The University of Sydney, which has 700 students enrolled at its College of the Arts, received backlash when the proposed merger was announced last month. Protesters claim that this merger was simply to make more money and it could potentially reduce the diversity of the arts scene in Sydney.
Students managed a public campaign about this. They conducted protests and were able to get the support of the wider arts community and prominent artists such as the painter Ben Quilty, an alumnus of the university.