Our history

Today's Victoria University is a direct descendant of Footscray Technical School (the School), which first opened its doors to students in February 1916.

It was intended by local businesses and community to offer students an education that would fit them for a role in the skilled workforce and raise students out of the ranks of unskilled labourers. The School adopted the image of the 'Door of Opportunity' as a means of expressing to the entire community its purpose and reason for existence.

Victoria University proudly inherits that spirit and tradition.

Our vision to be open and excellent, creating exceptional value for any student from any background and uplifting the communities in which we operate, is based in strong foundations laid nearly a century ago.


  • 1916 - Footscray Technical School formed.
  • 1958 - Footscray Technical School is renamed Footscray Technical College.
  • 1960 - Melbourne School of Hairdressing formed.
  • 1965 - The School of Painting, Decorating and Signcrafts formed.
  • 1968 - Footscray Technical College renamed Footscray Institute of Technology (F.I.T). 
  • 1973 - Footscray Technical College ( A division of F.I.T) formed.
  • 1975 - The Melbourne School of Hairdressing renamed as Melbourne Technical College of Hairdressing.
  • 1976 - The School of Painting, Decorating and Signcrafts becomes the Melbourne College of Decoration. 
  • 1979 - Newport Technical College,a division of Footscray Institute of Technology (F.I.T), formed.
  • 1982 - Footscray Technical College renamed as Footscray College of TAFE.
  • 1982 - Newport Technical College renamed as Newport College of TAFE.
  • 1984 - The Melbourne Technical College of Hairdressing changes its name to the Flagstaff College of TAFE.
  • 1987 - The Western Institute is established.
  • 1991 - The Western Metropolitan College of TAFE is formed out of the mergers of Footscray and Newport Colleges of TAFE (briefly called Gellibrand College of TAFE in 1991).
  • 1992 - Victoria University of Technology opens. Formed out of the merger of Footscray Institute of Technology and Western Institute.
  • 1993 - Flagstaff College of TAFE and the Melbourne College of Decoration (painting, decorating and signwriting programs) merge with the Western Metropolitan College of TAFE. 
  • 1996 - Western Metropolitan College of TAFE is renamed Western Melbourne Institute of TAFE.
  • 1998 - The Western Melbourne Institute of TAFE merges with Victoria University of Technology. 
  • 2005 - Victoria University of Technology formally renamed to Victoria University. 
  • 2016 - Victoria University, Celebrating a Centenary of Opportunity.
  • 2018 – VU Block Model is implemented – disrupting Australian higher education by introducing the entirely new model of student learning, where students undertake one unit at a time.
  • 2022 – Victoria University’s 32-level VU City Tower opens in the heart of the business and legal district, ushering in an exciting new era for the University.

VU during the pandemics

The Spanish Flu 1918-19

Nurses and orderlies that worked at Footscray Technical School emergency hospital during 1918-1919.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 began in the trenches of the Western Front, and was brought to Australia by returning soldiers.

The Footscray City Council turned Footscray Technical School into an emergency hospital, the classrooms becoming hospital wards. Nurses and orderlies were housed in tents on the school grounds.

Within a week of its opening the emergency hospital was flooded with patients, eventually 315 patients used the hospital's services, described as the best equipped hospital outside central Melbourne.

COVID-19 Vaccination Hubs

Young man getting a vaccination in a Western Bulldogs beanie and surgical mask

The VU Whitten Oval became a ‘pop-up’ clinic during COVID-19 with an impressive community turnout.

VU Polytechnic showed support when culinary students roll up their sleeves to prepare and pack lunches to frontline workers at Vaccine Clinics.

Former students of Victoria University Polytechnic who recently completed a health services certificate were some of the many healthcare heroes working on the frontline to protect communities in the west.