ANU School of Music needs to boost student numbers to be viable

ANU’s Professor Andrew Podger Photo: Sean Davey
Graham Strahle
| May 9, 2016

In the ANU’s ongoing consultations towards securing the future of its School of Music, Andrew Podger has produced a 44-page Discussion Paper that identifies a need to raise undergraduate enrolments to 200 in order to maintain the School’s viability. In the paper Podger says, “Current student numbers and enrolments are clearly insufficient for sustainability” and calculates that the School will also need 20 postgraduate students to achieve a sustainable critical mass.

Staffing levels would have to be accordingly increased, he continues. “To ensure the School attracts the required increase in student enrolments, it would need to invest in the relevant staffing and support arrangements ahead of the increase in student numbers.”

Elsewhere in the paper Podger highlights a consensus across the community sector that wants to see ANU School of Music’s ongoing problems urgently rectified. “There is a strong desire, within the School, across ANU, across the Canberra community and across the wider Australian tertiary music community, for the future of the ANU School of Music to be resolved. People desperately want to put the past behind and to identify a clear vision for the future that can be pursued with passion and enthusiasm,” he writes.

Podger calls for a need to acknowledge mistakes of the past, which include “deep mistrust amongst staff” and the University having “poorly managed” the School, and for all concerned “to work together” to solve its problems.

The paper’s full text can be viewed here. Podger’s final recommendations on the School’s future are due to be tabled in August.

Meanwhile, on the back of the Federal budget plan to save $2 billion from the higher education sector, the University of Sydney has named several of its courses as insufficiently funded. “University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence named veterinary studies, medicine, agriculture and music as some courses his university specialises in but receives insufficient funding,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports.


  1. wendy huddleston

    As a retired secondary school music teacher; teacher/accompanist/mentor to many young talented musicians who have studied at the school of music, my daughter being one of them, i plead that the ANU restores the school to its status of the past with outstanding staff and programmes. It is not good enough that my canberra granddaughter has had to leave home to study composition at sydney con

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