Doom for dons as Melbourne cancels musicology

Doom for dons as Melbourne cancels musicology


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2020

Melbourne’s Monash University has published plans to scrap teaching musicology and ethnomusicology as part of  a wave of funding cuts.

Monash will also shut down its performing arts degree programme.

A spokesperson blamed ‘consistently low unit enrolments’.

This could soon become the new normal.



  • Darrell says:

    But they still keep ‘Women’s and Gender Studies’.

  • Simon Healy says:

    Wrong. That’s going too: “Monash university’s gender studies major, which was first established in 1984, is now set to be abolished.”

    • John Borstlap says:

      Some people would consider this a silver lining.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Absolutely!!! Oh please god, yes!! Will that include the baseball batting skills which these same people adopt if you dissent from the orthodoxy?

    • William Safford says:

      That’s too bad.

      (My reply to Darrell was premature.)

    • V. Lind says:

      There are a lot more concerning cuts mentioned in that article than musicology or gender studies. I’d be more anxious about the mathematics and science cutbacks, and the business and economics programmes, if the universities are concerned about “employability” (which I personally do not believe should be the principal function of a university but recognise is at the moment).

  • V. Lind says:

    If enrolment is consistently low, I don’t see that they have much choice.

    And I seriously doubt that Monash is the best music teaching available in Australia.

  • Lebron James says:

    Monash’s old head of music Cat Hope was an absolute joke, seeking to cut as much funding as possible from the performing arts. It was very sneaky, first up cutting chamber music, before replacing instrumental employments with her own ‘colleagues/mates’, trying to further her own personal agenda/arts portfolio by removing as much classical music education as possible.

    Thankfully, Melbourne Uni offered many of the ex-Monash staff with casual positions – but who knows how long this will be sustained for. The piano department is stacked with teachers & let’s not get started on the current head of piano at Melbourne hmm.

  • Tony says:

    Good decision! As a professor of music, I believe Australian universities cannot support music/musicology departments in every major city and other regional centres. This has lead to lots of amateurish teaching staff (frequently hired because they completed a doctorate at the same institution) and research outcomes too. PhDs in music within Australia have generally fallen significantly in standard when compared with first or second tier music schools internationally. (I have heard from colleagues that this situation pervades much of the humanities, arts, and social sciences at Australian universities.)

    Covid has provoked such necessary closings that would never have come otherwise much to the detriment of quality music education. Further, Melbourne Uni is already flooded with musicologists (some fine, others not so fine). Having another music department at Monash (also in Melbourne) is and always was unsustainable. The good times, where significant university cash reserves permitted such excesses and propped up such departments, are over; thank God or thank covid!

    This is an opportunity for Australian universities to look at having no more than a few musicology departments where an excellent faculty can be grouped together to produce excellent quality in teaching and research and inspire future generations of music students.