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Stop closure of the last Ceramic course in Victoria.

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DISASTROUS NEWS for the Australian ceramics industry as Holmesglen TAFE recently announced the likely premature closure of the last remaining Diploma of Ceramics course in Victoria. Up until early November Holmesglen Chadstone was continuing to advertise the course as a 2-year full-time, 4-year part time course. Since making these announcements public via social media, Holmesglen have now updated their website to advertise the course to new students as a 1-year course, so that it can be cancelled at the end of 2016.


In a meeting with Holmesglen managerial staff and students, current students were told the course would continue in “teach-out” mode in 2016, and encouraged students to complete as many units as possible before the likely closure of the course in 2017. This means doing up to 10 units per semester, when previously “full time” meant 5 or 6 units.


It was mentioned that units may have to be combined or taught simultaneously, a suggestion which Holmesglen now denies. Holmesglen now also refuses to acknowledge in writing that managerial staff told students the course has to go into “teach out” mode. All previous studio hours (including on Tuesdays and Fridays) have been completely abolished. This means students are expected to complete assignments for up to 10 units without ANY studio time.


Many students will be unable to finish their accredited diplomas as they are only able to study part-time. This includes people with disabilities and ongoing health conditions, parents, those with part-time employment,  those who can't afford to pay for the course all in one year, or other responsibilities. Only allowing the course in a 10 unit/semester format when it was previously advertised as a flexible course, is an act of discrimination.


The course in now advertised as only being able to be completed full-time, 10 units per semester. Holmesglen fails/refuses to understand that this is not actually a viable format for the course, as there are first and second year units that have to be completed one after another due to the original format of the course being 2 years (eg an introductory wheel-throwing unit has to be done in 1st year, followed by an advanced wheel-throwing unit in 2nd year). It is the opinion of the students that the course is unlikely to be able to be taught in 2017, as Holmesglen are attempting to manipulate class numbers so that classes will be too small to function (smaller than 15 students) by 2017.


Holmesglen claims that the only way it can continue to offer the course is in this new 1-year format, for reasons of financial “sustainability”. When questioned -how- this makes the course more sustainable, Holmesglen refuses to provide a more detailed response. 


Holmesglen accepted new students even mid-year 2015 and encouraged part-time study with the full knowledge that many of these students cannot finish their accredited diplomas (and the course is full-fee so not cheap). The current students ask that Holmesglen allow at least a longer “teach-out” period so that students can complete their courses, if not attempt to develop strategies in order to return the diploma to a surplus so it can continue to be taught in future years.


It is important for the ceramics industry Australia-wide that this course continues so that future generations can learn and pass on this ancient and undervalued artform. This diploma is the last remaining purely skill-based course of its kind left in the state.


 Melbourne is known as a city of art and craft, and ceramics has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity in recent years. It makes absolutely no sense to deny not only current students but future students the opportunity to study this ancient craft. We want to be able to say with pride that our state supports arts education - don't you?


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