A proposed restructure of South Australia’s top university drama course has sparked fierce backlash from students who fear they will be worse off under the changes.
Last week, Flinders University released a review into its Bachelor of Creative Arts course.
It made dozens of recommendations including cutting the time students spend acting, pausing the intake of new drama students in 2021 and scrapping one of the only specialised directors programs offered in Australia.
It also recommends setting aside more time to develop students skills in emerging fields like digital development, motion capture and voice acting for games, to ready students for the jobs of the future.
Lachlan Williams, a third-year student studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Drama) at the Uni, is worried the changes could force prospective students interstate.
“It’s unbelievable, there’s already so many young South Australian artists that move to Melbourne and to Sydney to try and get a career going, which means we keep losing the talent out to those other states.
“Now that the one course that provided the adequate amount of training to keep someone in South Australia is getting cut, I literally can’t even fathom the effect this could have on the state’s arts industry.”
The 22-year-old also fears the course restructure could result in the Drama School at the university being phased out completely, similar to what’s happened at the University of Newcastle and Monash University.
“They’re saying that they’re not phasing us out which I guess in so many words would be true perhaps, but what they’re doing is cutting back on our time spent acting and making our course more broad.
“We’re trying to become actors by attending this school and by them saying they’re trying to make us more job ready they’re actually hindering our specialisation.
The Acting Vice President and Executive Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders Uni, Professor Peter Monteath, says while he understands students’ concerns, a restructure is needed to make the course sustainable.
“There are difficult times in the creative arts, we’ve seen that throughout this year and interstate options are now not as plentiful as they were.
“What the report is doing is navigating a way forward, but within that context of course we’re willing to listen to the students, we’ve been receiving lots of feedback, we’re sure that there will be more and we encourage that.”
While a decision on whether to implement the recommendations isn’t expected until early next year, a change.org campaign to stop the restructure and cuts has been launched, garnering more than 5000 signatures so far.
Students are also posting their own personal experiences at the Drama Centre under the hashtag #MyFlindersExperience.
More than 100 people are also expected to protest the restructure at Victoria Square in Adelaide tonight.