Introduction to Sydney College of the Arts
History of the faculty
Since it welcomed its first students over 30 years ago, Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) has been a leader in high quality, research-led teaching and research training in contemporary art – something of which we can be justifiably proud.
Our reputation has been achieved through the excellent quality of the work produced by committed artist-academics, theorists, postgraduate research students and alumni. Together, they have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of contemporary arts in Australia and overseas, through exhibitions, festivals and performances in major museums and galleries, and through national and international contemporary arts events.
SCA was originally founded in 1975 as an independent tertiary art school – the first of its kind in New South Wales – in the wake of the 1970 Gleeson Report, which drew attention to the need in Sydney for a 'corporate college of advanced education' devoted to the provision of 'tertiary education for persons preparing for professional careers in art and design'.
Originally constituted as a broad Art and Design provider, the first design students enrolled in 1976, with the first fine art cohort arriving a year later. Guided by major contemporary arts and crafts figures such as Jim Allen, Guy Warren, Helge Larsen and Imants Tillers, a decade of highly successful activity ensued. This saw the graduation of such luminaries as Designer Marc Newson (Jewellery and Sculpture 1984) and Jane Campion (Painting 1981).
State politics didn't just help SCA into existence, it was also responsible, in 1988, for the splitting in half of the original SCA. The School of Design moved into the University of Technology, Sydney, leaving the School of Visual Art retaining the name 'Sydney College of the Arts', as a semi-autonomous part of the short-lived New South Wales Institute of the Arts.
On 1 January 1990, SCA merged with the University of Sydney. Now one of the few remaining Australian visual arts schools with fully-fledged faculty status, it continues to celebrate its founding ideals and ambitions as it continues to develop and grow as a vital part of the nations first University.
SCA demonstrates its strength across several key indicators. For example, the faculty tops the table for overall satisfaction with its courses in a comparison of Art and Design provision at Australias top universities. It has the top Teaching Performance Indicator of all faculties in the University of Sydney and shares with Humanities and Education a ranking of 'excellent' and a place in the top band of the externally assessed Teaching Performance Fund for 2007. Across the University the SCA has consistantly high completion rates for research higher degrees.
SCA's vision and mission
Sydney College of the Arts aims to be the premier provider of contemporary art learning and research nationally and in the region and an acknowledged world leader.
As a faculty of Australias first university, Sydney College of the Arts will contribute significantly to its cultural and academic life, as well as to society and the community at large.
It will achieve its vision by:
- attracting and retaining the highest quality students and staff
- delivering innovative and current learning and teaching in contemporary art, especially at postgraduate levels, which will be a key growth area
- producing international quality research outputs appropriate to artist academics in contemporary arts
- engaging with the professional and local communities at all levels
- attracting external funding for projects in all areas of its activities.
Through its commitment to flexible, adaptive learning in studio programs centred in contemporary practice, SCA will provide students with the capacity to be leading contemporary artists and fully engaged, cultural participants, in the knowledge that a contemporary art education can underpin professional practice in all disciplines.
Student representation and the SCA Board
The Faculty Board determines all academic matters concerning the degree programs at Sydney College of the Arts and meets at least three times each year. The chair is elected from the academic staff of the faculty every two years. SCA is committed to listening to the student voice and has provision for up to four student members on the Board.
In addition, there are two staff/student committees – Undergraduate and Graduate School – which meet at least four times each year to discuss and act upon a range of issues.