Students and staff have expressed their disappointment after Charles Sturt University announced its Creative Industries degree will be axed and performance arts courses removed from the Wagga campus, a move that will see more than eight full-time roles axed.
CSU yesterday confirmed that as outlined in a proposal released earlier this month, from 2022 on theatre media, acting, and performance majors and subjects will be removed from Wagga and made available at the Bathurst campus or online, while creative arts majors including photography, visual culture, digital imaging, and art history will remain.
Under the changes the Bachelor of Creative Industries will be replaced with a Bachelor of Arts with majors in creative or performance arts. The university guaranteed that any existing student will be allowed to finish out their studies with face-to-face classes at their elected campus.
Craig Dixon studies screen at CSU Wagga and called the decision to remove his degree and performance majors from the campus for future students a "tremendous shame".
"I think the courses offered at Wagga provided a lot of opportunities for people in the region and it also brought a lot of people to the region," Mr Dixon said.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education Professor John McDonald acknowledged 8.5 full-time equivalent roles will be lost in the cuts.
Professor McDonald said the decision was made based on dwindling student enrolments identified in an independent review conducted over the past two years, but declined to share the enrolment figures publicly.
Organiser of an online petition to save the creative courses Ava Castellaro said she was appalled at the university's decision.
"I personally find it outrageous that this is the final decision made from CSU," she said, adding the impact would be felt on Wagga's cultural scene.
"[The decision] hinders the creative and performing arts in Wagga," she said. "This decision massively disrupts the Wagga City Council's 10 year Cultural plan. This should be of massive concern of the whole community of Wagga as well as the Riverina."
Professor McDonald said the final decision was a "hard one" but a necessary step as part of the university's Sustainable Futures programs which aims to lower their ongoing deficit.
He added cuts to the Wagga campus were made with input from staff.
"The final change plan is based upon staff consultation and feedback to the proposal that was delivered to staff," he said.
A member of the creative industry faculty, who asked to remain anonymous, refuted the statement however, saying to their knowledge no members of the Creative Industries staff in Wagga had been consulted.
"In my understanding no creative industry staff have been consulted, I certainly have never been consulted, and we were not consulted on the way this new dissolving of the course has been done," they said. "There has been no local consultation."
The staff member said removing performance courses, despite the campus's world-class facilities including the Riverina Playhouse and TV studio, amounted to "ripping out the heart of Wagga".
Professor McDonald said the Playhouse will continue to benefit the wider Wagga community.
"The University's ongoing support for arts in Wagga Wagga extends beyond the classroom and includes the Riverina Playhouse," he said. "Along with [council] we have established a working party to ensure the Riverina Playhouse remains in use by the region's many and talented performance artists."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: