Qld universities in the red. Why?

Save Griffith University College of Art

The Queensland College of Art (GCA) has a long history in Queensland. Over the years it has been housed in George Street, Brisbane, Seven Hills, and South Bank. It has been part of the TAFE system and Griffith University.

The College of Arts campus at Seven Hills had great courses in pottery, photography, photo journalism, printing, sculpture, print making and visual arts.

Heritage Arts and Culture sold out
The Seven Hills campus was sold by the State Government and is now a private housing estate and aged care facility. All connection to the Arts was lost except as a venue for the Villanova Players. This is part of a larger privatisation process undertaken by governments, state and federal. They even pulled down one of the best regional arts libraries in the state also located on campus at Seven Hills. The building that housed state of the art printing machines in the early 2000’s is still there, unoccupied and unused twenty years later. What a waste!

A perfectly good TAFE college at Seven Hills was demolished in order to make way for developers building ugly housing in boxes along Tallowwood and Foxton Streets plus yet another Woolworths or Coles is planned. These developments have caused considerable traffic congestion in Seven Hills. Local small businesses have complained about lack of parking near their shops.

Now developers are building 34 five-storey high apartments at 31 Tallowwood Street at Seven Hills. Does this exceed building guidelines? The BCC has levied only $384,559.02 to provide stormwater, transport, public parks and land for community facilities. The developer said they are going to build to 8-stories. Who is right? Why did the State Government approve such development and sell public land for private gain to developers?

You can read more and sign the petition here:

Governments have no right to sell off public land and educational facilities built up over more than a century by teachers, workers, students and artists in this country!

The Federal government is making proposed funding cuts to universities across the board. As a result Griffith University propose there be a 44 per cent reduction in GCA teaching staff and cuts to programs across Fine Arts and Photography at Griffith University College of Art (QCA).

Staff and students at QCA say if the proposed plan goes ahead the future of Brisbane’s art community is at risk.

Plan of Housing Estate where College of Art used to be at Seven Hills

The funding cuts to Griffith University Arts program plans to turn Bachelors degree to majors removing fundamental courses have students and teaching staff worried.

Not just at Griffith
In 2019 the State government authorised the demolition of the Schonell Theatre at UQ. The Heritage board was placed under pressure from the UQ Vice-chancellor overruling claims for heritage listing by students and staff at the University. Despite this, Schonell is still an important arts venue.

In the 1970s there began a community arts movement that existed in Brisbane all the way through till now with successive governments slowly killing it off.

The Griffith University executive is out of its depth; From 1975 on, GU was never strong in the arts, their forte was Modern Asian Studies and the School of Environment and Science. As time went by GU picked up the Film school, the College of the Arts, and the Conservatorium of Music.


Regarding the latter, UQ had its own music dept., GU had nothing, so why did it get the Con?

GU should have stuck with their strengths; but no, now they are paying the price because of the fallout from international students dropping out from the Gold Coast Campus, GU’s jewel in the crown.

That’s why they are in the red, a financial basket case. Plus they could not keep up with Queensland University of Technology when it had the best Drama course and pushed Creative Industries capturing a lot of students. Griffith Uni could not compete.

Alas QCA, the Film School and the Con. should never have gone under the GU umbrella, they should have maintained their independence. QCA should stand alone not be part of this corporatist nightmare.

It may be a crude analysis, but UQ was always run by Liberals and GU by the Labor Party. Neither political party has managed the Universities properly. UQ sold out having excellence in disciplines and GU ruined its multi-discipline approach.

All this has been evident for years, but so little has been done to stop it.

I wish staff and students well in their endeavours.

Please support the arts and sign the petition here:

Ian Curr
23 Nov 2020

Matthew Newkirk interviewed by Bec Mac about ‘SAVE OUR STUDIOS QCA

Save Griffith University!’

– Text & Photos by Lachlan Hurse

Today I joined with hundreds of people protesting about the awful plans that Griffith University management have hatched, getting rid of 300 staff, and spending a fortune on a CBD building. What are they thinking? That education is achieved by having shiny buildings?

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems faced by a higher education industry beset by poor government funding and run by a managerial class that have bought into the neo-liberal model of education as a private good to be bought and sold, rather than a social necessity that should be fully supported by our taxation system.

Sadly this plan will not secure the future for Griffith University, which had its origins in a progressive vision for tertiary education, but ensure that it is on the road to ruin.

The staff and students can see it, their colleagues in other universities can see it, their union can see it, but the Griffith Executive are blinded by their own sense of superiority. A bunch of mean-spirited dills.

Solidarity forever!

NTEU National Tertiary Education Union National Tertiary Education Union – Qld Division Together Queensland Queensland Unions

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