University of Tasmania has reconfirmed its commitment to theatre in Launceston after a restructure of its contemporary arts degree.
Reports were made on Monday that Launceston theatre students would be forced to seek interstate courses after the Bachelor of Contemporary Art was axed from UTAS’ curriculum.
However, theatre as a subject will still be offered in Launceston, but theatre will now be offered as a major under the Bachelor of Arts.
Arts, law and education executive Dean Kate Darian-Smith said no student would be disadvantaged under the changes.
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“The university remains committed to a theatre program in Launceston that is community and industry led, and our vision of having the Inveresk Precinct as a vibrant cultural community space reflects this approach,” Professor Darian-Smith said.
“As the flagship major, it is being offered as part of a strategy to increase the numbers of students in the Bachelor of Arts in Launceston and with a view to growing theatre and performance in Northern Tasmania.”
However, the changes have earned the ire of the Theatre Council of Tasmania, who urged UTAS to rethink.
“The level of talent in the performing arts sector in Tasmania is extraordinary, as shown by the more than 50 theatre productions judged each year for the Tasmanian Theatre Awards”, president Peter Sexton said.
“Once our talented young people move to another state, it is very difficult to persuade them to return. It is therefore very important for the University of Tasmania to rethink this decision urgently.”
One of the key changes is students will be able to undertake a second disciplinary major via their eight electives. Previously, students were only able to complete one minor in a second area of study.
“The introduction of a second disciplinary major allows for greater career opportunities including a supervised work placement with local festival and performance groups,” Professor Darian-Smith said.
The reports raised the concern of Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam, who said he had sought assurances from the university about the changes.
“Our state has earned a reputation as a flourishing cultural hub, and it’s concerning to see a university degree that can help grow this reputation is being changed,” he said.
“As an advocate for Tasmanians being able to study their choice of subject here in the State, it’s concerning to see that the University has decided to restructure its only theatre degree offered.”
He said the university had provided assurances that no student would be worse off under the changes.
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