The University of Melbourne was established by Hugh Childers, the Auditor-General and Finance Minister, in his first Budget Speech on 4 November 1852, who set aside a sum of £10,000 for the establishment of a university. The university was established by Act of Incorporation on 22 January 1853, with power to confer degrees in arts, medicine, laws and music. The act provided for an annual endowment of £9,000, while a special grant of £20,000 was made for buildings that year. The foundation stone was laid on 3 July 1854, and on the same day the foundation stone for the State Library Classes commenced in 1855 with three professors and sixteen students; of this body of students, only four graduated. The original buildings were officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor of the Colony of Victoria, Sir Charles Hotham, on 3 October 1855. The first chancellor, Redmond Barry (later Sir Redmond), held the position until his death in 1880.
The inauguration of the university was made possible by the wealth resulting from Victoria's gold rush. The institution was designed to be a "civilising influence" at a time of rapid settlement and commercial growth.
In 1881, the admission of women was a seen as victory over the more conservative ruling council.
The university's 150th anniversary was celebrated in 2003.
As of May 2009 the university "suspended" the Bachelor of Music Theatre and Puppetry courses at the college and there were fears they may not return under the new curriculum.
A 2005 heads of agreement over the merger of the VCA and the university stated that the management of academic programs at the VCA would ensure that "the VCA continues to exercise high levels of autonomy over the conduct and future development of its academic programs so as to ensure their integrity and quality" and also that the college's identity will be preserved. New dean Sharman Pretty outlined drastic changes under the university's plan for the college in early April 2009. As a result, it is now being called into question whether the university have upheld that agreement.
Staff at the college responded to the changes, claiming the university did not value vocational arts training, and voicing fears over the future of quality training at the VCA. Former Victorian arts minister Race Mathews has also weighed in on the debate expressing his hope that, "Melbourne University will not proceed with its proposed changes to the Victorian College of the Arts", and for 'good sense' to prevail.
In 2011, the Victorian State Government allocated $24 million to support arts education at the VCA and the faculty was renamed the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
Melbourne University has 12 residential colleges in total, seven of which are located in an arc around the cricket oval at the northern edge of the campus, known as College Crescent. The other five are located outside of university grounds.
The residential colleges aim to provide accommodation and holistic education experience to university students.
Most of the university's residential colleges also admit students from RMIT University and Monash University, Parkville campus, with selected colleges also accepting students from the Australian Catholic University and Victoria University.
Several of the earliest campus buildings, such as the Old Quadrangle and Baldwin Spencer buildings, feature period architecture.
The new Wilson Hall replaced the original building which was destroyed by fire.
The Melbourne University Library has three million visitors performing 42 million loan transactions every year. The general collection comprises over 3.5 million items including books, DVDs, photographic slides, music scores and periodicals as well as rare maps, prints and other published materials. The library also holds over 32,000 e-books, hundreds of databases and 63,000 general and specialist journals in digital form.
The libraries include:Baillieu Library (arts and humanities)
Brownless Biomedical Library (medicine and veterinary science)
Eastern Resource Centre (science, engineering, East-Asian Collection and Louise Hanson-Dyer Music Library)
Giblin Eunson Library (business, economics and education)
Lenton Parr Music, Visual and Performing Arts Library (formerly VCA Library)
Melbourne School of Land and Environment Library (Burnley, Creswick, Dookie)
Veterinary Science Library (Werribee)
The university has four other campuses in metropolitan Melbourne at Burnley, Southbank, Hawthorn and Werribee.
The Burnley campus is where horticultural courses are taught. Performing arts courses are taught at the Southbank campus. Commerce courses are taught at the Hawthorn campus. Veterinary science is taught at the Werribee campus.
In regional Victoria, the Creswick and Dookie campuses are used for forestry and agriculture courses respectively. They previously housed several hundred residential students, but are now largely used for short courses and research. The Shepparton campus is home to the Rural Health Academic Centre for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.
The university is a part-owner of the Melbourne Business School, based at Parkville campus, which ranked 46th in the 2012 Financial Times global rankings.
Governance of the university is grounded in an act of parliament, the University of Melbourne Act 2009. The peak governing body is the "Council" the key responsibilities of which include appointing the Vice Chancellor and Principal, approving the strategic direction and annual budget, establishing operational policies and procedures and overseeing academic and commercial activities as well as risk management. The chair of the council is the "Chancellor". The "Academic Board" oversees learning, teaching and research activities and provides advice to the council on these matters. The "Committee of Convocation" represents graduates and its members are elected in proportion to the number of graduates in each faculty.
The University of Melbourne has an endowment of approximately $1.335 billion, the largest of any Australian tertiary institution. However, Australian endowments are relatively small compared with those of the wealthiest US universities.
This was after a recovery period of the University's hardship following the 2008 Great Recession, where it shrank by 22%. This required restructuring of the university including cutting of some staff.
The university has 11 academic units, some of which incorporate a graduate school. The overall attrition and retention rates at the university are the lowest and highest respectively in Australia. The university has one of the highest admission requirements in the country, with the median ATAR of its undergraduates being 94.05 (2009). Furthermore, The university continued to attract outstanding students; for example, 50% of the Premier's VCE Top All-Round High Achievers enrolled at the University of Melbourne.
According to the 2009 Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings, Melbourne was then the only Australian university to rank in the top 30 in all ﬁve core subject areas with three subject areas ranked in the top 20.
Melbourne University claims that its research expenditure is second only to that of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). In 2010 the university spent $813 million on research. In the same year the university had the highest numbers of federal government Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA) and International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS), as well as the largest totals of Research Higher Degree (RHD) student load (3,222 students) and RHD completions (715).
The University of Melbourne is unlike any other university in Australia in the fact that instead of offering specialized undergraduate degrees the university instead, offers nine generalised 3 year degrees:Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Agriculture
Bachelor of Biomedicine
Bachelor of Commerce
Bachelor of Design
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Bachelor of Music
Bachelor of Oral Health
Bachelor of Science
The change and the resulting curriculum is often referred to as the "Melbourne Model". The University then offers postgraduate courses(including the professional-entry master's degrees) which are more specialized which follow on from their undergraduate degree.
The "Melbourne Model" was implemented under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis in 2008.
In 2007, Melbourne University aimed to offer 75% of graduate places as HECS (with the remaining 25% being full fee paying).
A number of professional degrees are available only for graduate entry. These degrees are at a masters level according to the Australian Qualification Framework, but are named "masters" or "doctorate" following the practice in North America. The professional degrees are:
Various groups, including trade and student unions, academics, and some students have expressed criticism of the Melbourne Model, citing job and subject cuts, and a risk of "dumbing down" content. A group of students also produced a satirical musical regarding the matter.
Research produced by the Melbourne Institute in 2006 ranked Australian universities across seven main discipline areas: arts and humanities; business and economics; education; engineering; law; medicine; and science, with Melbourne University as the highest in business, law and medicine by both academic surveys and overall performance.
In 2010 the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP), ranked Melbourne Uni 40th globally and highest in Australia.
Notably, in 2013 the University of Melbourne's Medicine course was ranked 9th in the world, the first time an Australian University has been ranked in the top 10 medicine schools
According to QS World University Subject Rankings 2015, the University of Melbourne is ranked 5th in the world for education, 8th in law, 13th in computer science and IT, 13th in arts and humanities, 14th in accounting and finance, 14th in dentistry and 18th in medicine.
Melbourne was ranked 123rd in the world (2nd in Australia) in the CWTS Leiden Ranking.
The university's coat of arms is a blue shield on which a depiction of "Victory" in white colour holds her laurel wreath over the stars of the Southern Cross. The motto, Postera crescam laude ("Later I shall grow by praise" or, more freely, "We shall grow in the esteem of future generations"), is written on a scroll beneath the shield. The Latin is from a line in Horace's Odes: ego postera crescam laude recens.
The university is associated with several arts institutions in the wider community. These include:The Ian Potter Museum of Art, which houses the university's visual arts collection.
Thirty-three cultural collections, embodying the history of many of the academic disciplines taught at the university. These include the Grainger Museum Collection of musical cultural artefacts; the Medical History Museum, covering the history of the medical profession in Victoria; and the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, which contains more than 8,000 specimens relevant to the teaching of medicine and other health sciences.
"Prosh" is a celebrated tradition at the University of Melbourne and is usually held in late September in which teams of students engage in various non-academic activities, including Go-Kart Races, a 24-hour scavenger hunt and lecture theatre pranks. There are two types of teams that compete during Prosh, "big" teams (e.g. Arts Spoons, Psi-ence) and "small" teams (teams composed of less than 20 people). The winning team claims the "Prosh Week Trophy" and eternal glory. Prosh Week is organised and hosted by 'The Judges', 6 elusive figures that placed in the prior years Prosh Week. These characters always have 'Judge Names' which follow a general theme, for example 2015 saw the rise of the literary character Judges, whilst 2016 see comic book character Judges.
The origins of "prosh" are debated and no one knows why or how it started. One theory claims that "prosh" came from a week that was nicknamed "Posh week" due to the number of times students would have to dress up in formal attire for a glut of University Student Balls hosted around the time. The effects of alcohol caused words to be slurred, and thus "posh" became "prosh". Another theory claims that "prosh" is short for "procession", a week that involved students parading around Parkville and surrounding suburbs for unknown reasons. Despite the contested origins of "Prosh", it is now a week where University of Melbourne-affiliated teams complete a range of nonsensical tasks.
The University has participated in various sports in its history and has 39 affiliated clubs. Sport is overseen by Melbourne University Sport.
The Melbourne University Sports Union was the predecessor to the current Melbourne University Sports Association. Since its inception, the aim of the Union and now the Association is to provide a collective voice for all affiliated sporting clubs on the University campus. In 2004, the Melbourne University Sports Association celebrated its centenary.
The Melbourne University Lacrosse Club (MULC) was established in 1883 and is the oldest continually operational lacrosse club in the world.
The Melbourne University Cycling Club (MUCyc) is associated with Cycling Australia and competes regularly at local and national races. In 2008 MUCyc won its seventh consecutive AUG championship (2002–2008).
The Melbourne University Tennis Club was one of the original five (5) clubs established for the students and staff of the University, with various tennis competitions and social tennis events held on campus as early as 1882.
Since its inception in 2012, MAP has evolved into a program that hosts a range of public events, workshops and feeder programs to help up-skill and connect entrepreneurs of all stages. The best startups on campus are awarded access to the MAP Startup Accelerator. In 2014, MAP was one of two Australian university accelerators that have been named in a global list of top 25 university incubators produced by University Business Incubator Index.
The first MAP cohort in 2012 includes Bluesky, 121 Cast, VenueMob and New Wave Power Systems. Notably, Bluesky managed to enter the finals of the StarTrack Online Retail Industry Awards 2014 for best mobile shopping app against large Australian e-commerce incumbents including The Iconic and 121Cast signed a large content partnership contract with Southern Cross Austereo.
MAP student founders have collectively raised over $5.6 million in funding, created more than 60 jobs and generated over $1.0 million in revenue. They tackle big problems across a range of industries, from medical devices and hardware, to financial technology, web solutions, e-commerce and software.
The University of Melbourne has produced many notable alumni, with graduates having held the offices of Governor-General, Governor of Victoria, Prime Ministers of Australia, Justices of the High, Federal, Family and Victorian Supreme courts, Premiers of Victoria and elected leaders of other states and territories, Nobel Laureates, a First Lady of East Timor, ministers of foreign countries, Lord Mayors, academics, architects, historians, poets, philosophers, politicians, scientists, physicists, authors, industry leaders, defence force personnel, corporate leaders, community leaders, as well as numerous artists.