Victorian College of the Arts Student Union

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
VCASU members holding a parody of one of the Most-wanted Iraqi playing cards depicting former Minister for Education Brendan Nelson for his role in the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism.

The Victorian College of the Arts Student Union (VCASU) was the student union of the former Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), now known as the Faculty of VCA and Music (VCAM) in Melbourne, Australia. It was a separately incorporated organisation which represented the VCA student body. It had a strong history of creative student activism and successful political campaigns.[1] VCASU's student newspaper was called Spark. VCASU officially went into voluntary liquidation on 15 May 2009 and shut down operations by 30 June 2009.[2]

The Melbourne Model[edit]

VCA became a faculty of the University of Melbourne (UoM) in 2007, which is in the stages of implementing the Melbourne Model at UoM. VCASU argued the new changes were aimed at cutting university courses, staff and services which UoM Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis denied.[3] Davis, the architect of the Melbourne Model had come under much criticism from staff[4] and students alike.[5]

UoM Provost Peter McPhee announced on 22 April 2008, that VCA's six separate schools of fine art, music, drama, dance, production and film and television would become three by 2009, while maintaining the six disciplines.

VCASU also argued that UoM was attempting to silence VCASU for its criticisms over the Melbourne Model in the wake of Voluntary student unionism introduced under the John Howard Government, by refusing to fund the organisation any further, which they foresaw forcing its closure.[6] Despite this, VCASU achieved a 25% voluntary membership in 2007, with more than 50% of VCA students agreeing to join VCASU when enrolling online in both 2007 and 2008.[7] Sue Pennicuik of the Greens raised concerns with the University of Melbourne Amendment Bill that prior to the amalgamation of VCA with the university, VCA students had their own student union which represented them in their particular way of studying, pointing out the difference between the practical way of studying the arts to how university students study.[8]

Campaign history[edit]

In 1998, VCASU stopped the introduction of Up Front Fees at the VCA by staging a tent city on administration lawns.[9] In 2003 VCASU led a militant campaign to reinstate VCA sessional staff which were to lose their jobs due to a "budget deficit" according to VCA Director Andrea Hull.[10] In 2004, VCASU were involved in the student occupations at VCA,[11] RMIT University[12] and Monash University[13] against the Howard Government's increased HECS fees. Also in 2004 VCASU protested against the then Federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson while visiting the VCA campus by dressing as Grim Reapers and labeling him the "Minister for Higher Execution".[14] In 2008 VCASU accused UoM of forcing the closure of their union, a charge the university denies.[15] The union was also involved in protesting academic staff cuts in 2008 by attempting to disrupt a UoM council meeting.[16]


Proud was VCASU's annual acquisitive prize exhibition held for all VCASU members to participate. It had traditionally been held in the Margaret Lawrence Gallery at VCA. Beginning in 1996, Proud provided a launch pad for many of VCA's successful emerging artists, including Anastasia Klose,[17] Van Thanh Rudd[18] and Azlan McLennan.[19] Previous Proud exhibitions included high profile arts industry judges such as Marcus Westbury and Patricia Piccinini.[20]


  1. ^ VCA students' victory shows direct action works Socialist Alternative, Edition 70, September 2003. Accessed 21 April 2008.
  2. ^ VCA Student Union runs out of dough. Art Right Now, 15 May 2009. Accessed 14 December 2009.
  3. ^ Bigger fees, overworked staff and cuts to courses: welcome to higher education in 2008 VCASU. Accessed 21 May 2008.
  4. ^ Academics face axe at top faculty The Age, 11 July 2007. Accessed 22 April 2008.
  5. ^ Students demand sacking of VC Green Left Weekly, Edition 719, 27 July 2007. Accessed 22 April 2008.
  6. ^ Five reasons why YOU should join the campaign to stop Melbourne Uni from cutting staff and cutting your courses as part of its Melbourne Model VCASU. Accessed 21 May 2008.
  7. ^ The Impact of Voluntary Student Unionism on Services, Amenities and Representation for Australian University Students Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Accessed 22 May 2008.
  8. ^ Melbourne University Amendment Bill Victorian Greens, 31 March 2009. Accessed 14 December 2009.
  9. ^ Publications Orient Express, 2008. Accessed 13 November 2008.
  10. ^ Students gatecrash teachers' meeting The Age, 22 July 2003. Accessed 13 November 2008.
  11. ^ Students revolt against fees Green Left Weekly, Issue 577, 31 March 2004. Accessed 13 November 2008.
  12. ^ Students occupy against HECS fees, 2003 part 1 YouTube, 4 May 2008. Accessed 13 November 2008.
  13. ^ Students, police injured in Monash University fees protest The Age, 26 March 2003. Accessed 13 November 2008.
  14. ^ In The Thick Of It YouTube, 5 February 2007. Accessed 13 November 2008.
  15. ^ Uni student gag claim Melbourne Leader, 6 August 2008.
  16. ^ Students in protest raid over cuts to arts staff The Australian, 13 May 2008. Accessed 18 December 2009.
  17. ^ Anastasia Klose Art Info. Accessed 23 April 2008.
  18. ^ About the artist Accessed 14 December 2009.
  19. ^ Bio Accessed 14 December 2009.
  20. ^ Proud VCASU. Accessed 23 April 2008.

External links[edit]