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Victoria University

Chronologically Victoria's fifth university, Victoria University (VU) was established in the western suburbs in 1990 by the amalgamation of Footscray Institute of Technology (FIT) and the Western Institute. RMIT was briefly part of the university, which explains why it was initially known as Victoria University of Technology. The original campuses comprised Footscray (Ballarat Road), St Albans, Werribee, Melton and the Student Village at Maribyrnong. Subsequent acquisitions included a city campus (an office building at 300 Flinders Street built by Floyd Podgornik) and a campus at Sunbury (the old Caloola Training Centre). In 1998 the university amalgamated with Western Melbourne Institute of TAFE, bringing several additional campuses, including Sunshine, Newport and another Footscray campus (Nicholson Street).

Ironically, FIT (created in 1968) had begun life as the Footscray Technical School, based at Nicholson Street from 1916, adding its Ballarat Road campus in 1943, and only in 1982 formally separating from the then Footscray College of TAFE. In 1972 the technical school also separated, moving to its present site in 1980 and becoming the Footscray City Secondary College. From the early 1970s, FIT added to its traditional engineering curriculum innovative degrees in tourism, physical education, town planning and cultural studies; by 1984 it was a self-accrediting institution. Meanwhile, in response to the needs of the outer west, Western Institute was established as a combined TAFE-cum-higher education college in 1986.

Prominent leaders of the university and its predecessor institutions have included Arch Hoadley, Howard Beanland, Doug Mills, Irwin Herrman, Eric Lund, Jarlath Ronayne and vice-chancellor Elizabeth Harman. In the 1990s the university's annual operating revenue grew from $87 million to $210 million, its student numbers from 16 000 to 50 000, and its staffing from 1200 to 2000. It is affiliated with the Melba Music Conservatorium, the Communication Law Centre, and the Austin Research Institute. More than 40% of its students come from families whose first language is not English. With the demise of the western region's traditional manufacturing base, Victoria University has become one of its major enterprises, with half its students residing locally. It is also prominent in the teaching of international students.

Robert Pascoe

See also

Bligh Place