The Review

This page provides information on the now completed 2009/2010 University of Melbourne review of the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Music (VCAM) – known as the Switkowski Review or the VCAM Review.

In This Section

  • Overview
  • Key University Produced Review Documents
  • Key SAVE VCA Produced Review Documents
  • Public Submissions To The Review
  • Key Submissions To The Review
  • Review Related Posts
  • Discussion Paper Videos
  • Media Coverage Of The Review
  • Other Resources
  • Legacy Review Related Pages


On 11 November 2009 the University of Melbourne launched its review of the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and Music (VCAM).

At the time, The Age noted “although VCAM and the university characterise the review as part of its ongoing ‘commitment to a consultative process,’ there’s no doubt its wide-ranging ambit is a victory for the many students, concerned staff and those working in the arts in Victoria who campaigned long, loud and colourfully against the merger” (12/02/10).

SAVE VCA consistently held the view the University-led review was fundamentally flawed, lacking independence, the required scope and fatally lacking in detail (e.g. VCA’s financial situation was never discussed in any meaningful way). Nevertheless SAVE VCA encouraged the arts community to use the Review as a means to defend VCA, resulting in over 300 public submissions. SAVE VCA was also successful in lobbying for student forums being held as part of the Review process and obtaining a small number of opportunities for stakeholders to present directly to the Committee.

In May 2010 the Review Committee released its report. Although affirming the importance of VCA (and it’s highly successful teaching methods and course offerings) and discrediting the Dean’s vision of VCAM (“the report undermines almost everything that Pretty has argued thus far” The Age 22/05/10), the Review Report was largely toothless.

In late July 2010 the University predictably endorsed its own Review’s findings. The most obvious outcomes was that the 2009 merger of VCA and UoM Music that produced VCAM was to remain, and yet internally demerged into two divisions – Music (VCA Music and UoM Music now called Melbourne Conservatorium) and ‘the rest’ (called VCA). Each division has its down Director, limiting the role of Dean, resulting in Sharman Pretty resigning. The University now plans to start and complete a full Curriculum Review by the end of the 2010 for implementation in 2012 (however the Curriculum Review will be University run as per the original review so its independence is as yet unclear). Significantly, the University Response did acknowledged VCA had gone from a $5-6m p/a shortfall pre merger (due to the Federal funding cut) to a $18-20m annual shortfall post-merger, simply due to new central University costs (such as building rentals).

Key University Produced Review Documents

The University Review Website

Key SAVE VCA Produced Review Documents

Public Submissions to the Review

Note submissions were de-identified by the University of Melbourne.

Key Submissions to the Review

Note these submissions were also supplied to SAVE VCA so the authors have been identified.

  • Turnbull, Mathews, Denton & Landy: Written by a mix of ex VCA Council, Administrators and Arts Ministers, this submission gives an excellent sense of how much detail was lacking from the University’s review process. In their supplementary submission, the writers call particular attention to the University’s rental system which is responsible for VCA’s mounting “subsidy” – the authors calling the scheme “morally unconscionable”. Download submission. Download supplementary submission.
  • Rodney Hall: Writing as ex VCA Council and the ex head of the Australia Council, Hall gives a historical sense of the merger, and why he believes it should never have happened. Furthermore Hall gives an insight to pre-merger VCA, which was extremely well managed financially and operating in the black prior to the 2005 Howard Government cuts. Download the submission.
  • Ros Walker: As the former Manager of Film Victoria and founding teacher of the VCA Film & TV Producing course, Walker focuses on budget analysis of pre and post merger VCA. Walker finds VCA would be better off independent rather than remaining a faculty of the University, even if no additional funds were supplied. Download the submission.
  • The Discussion Paper section of that was active during the Review includes links to a broad range of sample submissions, including those for well known alumni (e.g. Julia Zemiro), established artists who have workshopped their work at VCA (e.g. Eddie Perfect) and arts businesses (e.g. The Butterfly Club). Go to the legacy Discussion Paper section of our website. Review Related Posts Discussion Paper Videos

Media Coverage of the Review

Note the below coverage is only related to the Review. See the Resources section for all media analysis regarding VCA.

Other Resources

Legacy Review Pages

Discussion Paper / Submission Assistance

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