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Name drop: Manhattan isolates ANU

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The Manhattan School of Music has condemned the Australian National University's plan to axe staff and funding for the School of Music - asking that its name not be used in association with the cuts.

When vice-chancellor Ian Young earlier this month announced a $1.3 million funding cut, 10 academic job losses and course reforms at the school which reduced access to one-on-one tuition, one of his selling points was that students would be able to take advantage of the video-conferencing technology to access experts at the Manhattan School of Music - through a collaboration which began in January last year.

But academics in Manhattan have expressed dismay at the proposed course changes, which take the focus off professional performance and one-on-one contact in favour of broader and more vocational music courses in areas such as music administration, journalism and teaching.

Marjorie Merryman, vice-president for Academics and Performance at the Manhattan School of Music, wrote to ANU students over the weekend, assuring them the MSM did not support the restructuring plan and had grave concerns about the use of its name in association with the restructuring.

''The university is using our name without our permission and over our expressed objections,'' Professor Merryman said.

She said staff at the school had learnt about the restructuring about 10 days ago when contacts at ANU brought to their attention the statement by Professor Young that some ANU faculty would be cut, but that students would have the option to take lessons and sessions provided by MSM through video-conferencing.

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She told ANU students she had written to Professor Young saying, ''We do not agree with [this] idea as an educational model; we support one-on-one live studio teaching. Educationally and philosophically, we could not endorse ANU's new model for college-level music study.''

Furthermore, she said, ''We have no arrangement with ANU to provide the services they describe.''

Video-conferencing is believed to be an occasional feature, not a regular offering at the School of Music. Since announcing halving student access to one-on-one tuition earlier this month, Professor Young has since reinstated access to one hour each week.

Professor Merryman said she had received reassurances from Professor Young that the MSM name had not been used in association with the restructuring plan - which, she said, had not been the case.

''We are very sad to learn that the university's financial decisions may result in faculty members losing jobs, and in students there receiving an inferior education … we are truly dismayed to be cited as partners in such a decision or supporters of such an action,'' she said.

A spokeswoman for vice-chancellor Young said the ANU was ''in contact with the Manhattan School of Music on these issues. Our relationship with the school is one we value highly.''

Jazz student Rohan Moore, who has facilitated the email contact with the MSM through the ''Save the School of Music'' group, said it was clear that there was no internal university support for the cuts, and wider community outrage that they were being undertaken - including from the international music community.

''One would hope that the support of the entire [ACT] Legislative Assembly, nearly 25,000 petition-signers, and perhaps hundreds of local and interstate organisations and societies, would sway them.''

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