School of Music equipped for future

06 June 2018

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, advised today that a review of  the School of Music has been completed and staff have been advised of the changes.

“It is imperative that our School is resourced to meet the changing needs of students and the wider music community, and that means keeping up with international best practice and providing courses that are relevant for today and into the future.

“Our revised Bachelor of Music focusses on music education more relevant to contemporary vocations, including classroom and studio teaching, media/events roles and music technology. It will enable further growth in areas such as jazz and popular music, and provides strong links to local Māori and Pasifika. Of course it is also crucial to keep strengthening our commitment to classical music and to look at ways to achieve a higher standard of training for musicians aspiring to have careers as performers.”

Professor McCutcheon said the other driver for the changes is the significant budget shortfalls of the past seven years.

“The School of Music has experienced financial difficulties that have meant it has been reliant on additional funding and subsidies for some time; that is just not sustainable. Student numbers (domestic and international) have declined and the staffing structure has been overly dependent on casual and fixed-term contracts, which affect the bottom line financial performance of the school. I know many people would prefer that was not a consideration, but given overall university funding models we cannot continue to buffer areas within the University ultimately at the expense of others.”

Consultation with staff within the School about the proposed changes received comprehensive and thoughtful feedback, the Vice-Chancellor said. The feedback was considered by the Review Committee, and a number of amendments made to the original proposal.

As a result of the process, 10 new academic roles have been created and eight disestablished (three of these are currently vacant). Another 23 roles are unchanged or substantially similar. The overall number of permanent School of Music academic staff increases from 27.3 to 30.5 staff members. Staff in disestablished roles will be supported in exploring redeployment options including the new roles in the structure.

Other areas strengthened or amended following the consultation included organising staffing within two broad groupings: Creative Practice (Classical, Composition/Theory, Jazz and Popular Music) and Music Studies (Music Education, Music Studies, and Music Technology). A Music Studies academic role was added to contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate courses and supervision.

The review committee acknowledged the importance of the relationship with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the many relationships held by all academic staff with the industry and community outside of the University.

Professor McCutcheon said the process of the review and the consultation had been challenging at times but he was confident that the result was a School of Music well-resourced for its teaching and research requirements now and into the future.