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Committee calls for Government to restore funding for ANU music course

Ian Bushnell 27 November 2019
H Course protest

Musicians perform at an H Course protest outside the Assembly. Photo: File.

Funding for an axed ANU music course for ACT college students should be restored and the Education Directorate should resume talks with the university about whether it could be re-introduced for Year 11 students next year, according to a Legislative Assembly committee report.

The ANU Extension Program’s Advanced Music Course, or H Course, which provided a pathway to the ANU for aspiring classical and jazz musicians for 30 years, was discontinued last year after the Directorate decided to re-direct funding to other programs.

The decision sparked a petition, protests and an inquiry by the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs, which tabled its report on the Inquiry into the cessation of the Music for Colleges course on Tuesday.

The Committee report said there was significant value in the continuation of an advanced music course for students who are gifted and talented in the arts, and that it should be funded and managed by the Education Directorate.

Entry for the course, which should be BSSS accredited in order to contribute to students’ ATAR results, should be by audition only with priority given to students who attended ACT public schools without advanced music options at their local school, the Committee found.

The report recommends that the Education Directorate redirect funds to ensure the immediate resumption of the H Course in Music once an acceptable agreement has been reached with the ANU School of Music.

Its says talks with the ANU should include consideration of students who entered Year 11 in 2019 and would otherwise have enrolled in the H Course, and that any other model considered by the ANU not put at risk the current accreditation status that contributes to a student’s ATAR score.

Dissenting Labor MLA Michael Pettersson called for a co-contribution model to reduce program costs.

Liberal arts spokesperson Vicki Dunne said the course should never have been defunded and the Government should restore it.

“The recommendations of the majority of the committee recognise the value of the H Course to the most talented of Canberra’s young musicians,” Mrs Dunne said.

“The H Course launches young music students into further study and, in many cases, international careers in music.

“These students become ‘ambassadors’ for Canberra’s music training programs, with the potential to attract new students and their families to our city, with all the added benefits that brings.”

She said it was disappointing that the Government failed to see the H Course as an investment in the future of the ACT’s young people.

“It is hard to believe that such a long-standing and successful music course ‘did not fit with ArtsACT’s current priorities’ and that they were prepared to defund it,” she said.

The Committee received 26 submissions, held three hearings and made six recommendations.


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