Thursday, November 28, 2013

Old school

You can never have too many art schools. That’s been the general idea in New Zealand over the last couple of decades. Many of the new ones arrived via a pimp-my-polytech craze that accelerated to absorb the increasing numbers of Gen Y school leavers who wanted to 'do something in the arts'. Now at least one of them - Auckland's Unitec - is reverting back to its Polytechnic roots as an industry-based training institution. In the process they are restructuring the 50 staff in the visual art department down to 17. 

Currently Unitec lists 27 lecturers and seven senior lecturers on its design and visual arts staff. There are some well-known and respected names among them including Yvonne Todd, Nicholas Spratt, Marie Shannon, Lisa Reihana, Allan McDonald, Mark Braunias, Edith Amituanai and Susan Jowsey. Will this return to the old-school idea of specific industry training be contagious? Not hard to think of a number of other art schools that may now be wondering just how long they will keep offering the visual arts as their core business.

You can read more about the Unitec restructure and its implications here.

Roger Boyce comments (28:11:13 / revised 2/12/13): A Neo Liberal sadist's game of musical chairs. By the way, the fellow who's orchestrating the 'pogrom' is Leon de Wet Fourie (former Intelligence Officer,rank of Major, in the South African National Defence Force). Can you beat that for Joseph Heller style black humour? 50 folks wrestling for 17 positions. Would make great Japanese reality TV programming. With Steven 'Pugsly' Joyce fat-fingerdly fiddling the tune. Five hundred and sixty students presently enrolled in the department - Unitec has used these numbers to honk about its scale of "real world learning. Honk, honk, huh? Upper management will, reportedly, be hiring yet more managers of departments who have no teaching experience and no research experience. Students will be galley slaves (um, interns) with design firms ... and teaching will be casualized and insecure. Welcome to the neo-Hobbesian world of modern academia. Taxpayers (via the benefit) will be subsidizing the new low-income, part time status of tertiary teaching professionals.