March 24, 2008 | by  |
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Film school closure receiving national coverage

The proposal to close Victoria’s Film programme to create a Cinema Studies programme is receiving growing national media attention, as two protests and a forum with University management earlier in the month contesting the closure have so far appeared meaningless. The closure of Victoria’s film programme adds to the proposed closure of Canterbury’s Film Studies and American Studies programmes, causing growing alarm for staff, students and the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

Liz Hawes, Co-President of NZUSA, says “in an age of internationalisation where the United States is a significant global player, the contribution of American Studies to academia is vital.”

“Film Studies at Victoria has an excellent reputation nationally and internationally for its programme, offering theory and practical courses. The potential loss of such programmes is nonsensical and would be a travesty”.

Among the points made by students at the forum, held on February 13, was the transparency of the proposal and the vagueness of Head of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Deborah Willis’s answers to their questions.

VUWSA Campaigns Officer Sonny Thomas said: “The University has not treated the students as the number one stakeholder… and that is the reason that [Willis] is being so defensive.”

VUWSA’s Acting President, Paul Brown added, “students are so angry because the process that’s been rammed down our throats is so shoddy. An open and transparent process which states the impacts on students and staff is ultimately what we want.”

Hawes described the proposals as “incredibly short-sighted” and “unjustifiable.” “They are an ominous sign of things to come – we’re left wondering who will be targeted next.”

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  1. Sir Rifles says:

    As an ex-film hons student I applaud the initiative taken by VUWSA.

    The 2007 Film Hons Production paper was a joke and elementary at best. Every single student in the class became disillusioned with the filmmaking process due to the lack of organisation and disinterested approach by the current lecturers in question (Bennion-Nixon being the main culprit). The technical staff, Wolffram and Black, should be given a standing ovation and a plaque for having to put up with such bullshit (‘scuse my French). We are none the wiser for taking the 404 course, only sadly aware of the money-hungry charade that’s sucking the life out of students and student film.

  2. Haimona Gray says:

    Unfortunately Sir Rifles VUWSA jumped on the save the film school/keep the status quo bandwagon and don’t seem to understand that the film department as it stands needs to improved if it wants to keep up with other tertiary providers. The first proposed changes would have been a step backwards but the department staying static would be a grave mistake.
    Victoria now has an opportunity to learn from their failure and come up with a plan (hopefully with student participation) that improves the department, not just down size it, we don’t want to go down the same route Canterbury did.

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