SCA Students Demand Answers: SCAR Open Letter



This letter has been sent and a response has been required by Monday 5pm, 4th July, 2016.  Thank you for your support!!!!


To Michael Spence, Stephen Garton and Colin Rhodes,

We, as students of Sydney College of Arts, are writing in response to the letter sent from the Deputy Vice Chancellor on Tuesday 21st of June. This letter outlined the planned closure of SCA’s campus at Callan Park alongside a “merger” with the University of New South Wales. We consider this intention a breach of our student rights and a direct attack on visual arts education and the wider Arts community in general.

Sydney College of the Arts is one of Australia’s leading contemporary art schools with a long cultural legacy of providing community, education and contributing significantly to the flourishing of visual arts in Australia. The conceptual, practice-led curriculum of SCA is core to the college’s identity and is foremost to its success. This education is inextricably linked with the Kirk-bride facilities. Central to this education are studio spaces, tuition by Australia’s pre-eminent practicing artists, access to a variety of unique facilities for art making as well as the foundation of specific studio-based practice.

If the proposed merger were to take place, students of both SCA and UNSW would have the unique nature of their education threatened, and this is detrimental both to the students, but also to the future direction of visual arts education in NSW.

SCA students have been misled and undermined through a lack of consultation. The scheme has been carried out with a blatant disregard of the student body, who had enrolled as artists with a very particular education in mind.

In light of recent developments regarding the proposed “merger” of SCA with UNSW as the Centre of Excellence, we demand clarification of the following issues that apparently brought on this change:


Regarding the financial losses of SCA:

The students demand transparent information regarding the deficit of the college. This includes the ‘space tax’ incurred, measured against the actual costs to the University.

Has the organisation of SCA itself run at a loss? And if so how?

Why was this loss not rectified by management under Colin Rhodes? Why was the current management retained if it was deemed unsuccessful?


Regarding the “merger” into the “Centre of Excellence”:

Why has SCA been the chosen art institution to be folded into another?

If the University of Sydney has deemed SCA unfit as a faculty, why have other options ensuring its existence not been entertained or discussed?

Is the University aware that both the teaching and studio facilities at SCA are unique and differ greatly from the system at UNSW?

Have the students been informed properly of these and other differences between the two institutions?

Have other universities been approached by Sydney University for a possible merger, allowing its own status to continue?

If so, which institutions? If not, why?


The SCA student body expects a detailed response by Monday 5pm, 4th July, 2016 to the concerns and questions above. A general reply avoiding all questions will display your lack of respect and we will not accept this as a legitimate response.


This petition was delivered to:

  • Provost
    Stephen Garton
  • Dean of SCA
    Colin Rhodes
  • Vice Chancellor
    Michael Spence


View the Original online petition



I value arts education and public education in general. The closure of SCA is clearly political, prioritising the business needs of the university (which has heaps of money) over the needs of the community. Save our SCA!

matte rochford, Dulwich Hill, Australia
3 months ago

I am a former senior lecturer in the Dept. of Architecture and an alumnus. I was dismayed to hear that you contemplate shutting down the campus at Kirkbride. This is one of the very few examples in Sydney of a community of buildings harmoniously related> it is a complex of the utmost importance and a perfect venue for an art school. Previously there were discussions of having the Architecture faculty as part of the campus. This would be an appropriate development.The University of Sydney would be immeasurably poorer without an art school. The visual arts form a vital component of human culture and a necessary complement to the humanities and sciences. How can the oldest University in Australia claim any serious consideration if it peripheralises the arts?

Swetik Korzeniewski, Australia

I believe SCA to be a centre of excellence already.

Laura Nolan, Australia

I am an artist

Chris Carmody, Australia
3 months ago

This institution is vital. Don’t let the state government sell off more assets!

Michelle Magee, Australia

This will be a significant blow to the arts in Australia. It indicates a total lack of regard for the welfare of students currently studying there.

Teresa Fraraccio, Australia

Students of SCA and COFA chose the respective schools for a reason. They have different values and are different educations!!!!

Eliza Gosse, Australia

SCA is absolutely vital to art in Sydney. To make such a blithe decision under the pretence of creating a “centre for excellence” (echoing Brandis’ Program for Excellence in the Arts) is to ignore what makes SCA unique and will leave a gaping hole. Not unlike the fate of UWS’ unique and significant art faculty, which was similarly shoved aside in the name of making money.

Elliot Waugh, Australia

We demand transparency and these specific questions answered. The closure of one of Australia’s leading art schools falls poorly on Sydney University. Sydney University will not live this horrific assault on a vital part of Sydney’s culture down.

Cybele Cox, Avalon, Australia

I am a current undergraduate student who has invested the last 6year of my life towards my degree, having to attain a cert 3 for acceptance into a diploma for acceptance into SCA – all with the goal of studying at and graduating from SCA with honors. I am a working mother and would not be able to continue working, attending classes and picking my children up from afterschool care from any other location/campus. I have been working towards a ceramic and hot glass fusion installation for my graduation show body of work. If I lose hot glass facilities I lose everything. Will I be reimbursed for all the HECS debt I have accumulated over the last 3 years if I am forced to drop my degree?

Amy Forwood, Australia