In 2016, Victoria University celebrated a Centenary of Opportunity.

The Centenary coincided with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Victoria University, with the first Vice-Chancellor being appointed in 1991. To mark this significant milestone in the institution’s history, the Centenary Project was established with the primary aim of enabling the University to proudly and publicly support its ambitious vision to become a university that is relevant to the needs and aspirations of contemporary learners and the community of the 21st century.

A secondary aim of the Centenary Project is to provide a vehicle through which the university can reconnect with the VU Family Tree and lay a strong foundation for a major capital campaign to deliver inspiring and ambitious projects to benefit VU students and the community.

Historical context

In celebrating the Centenary in 2016, we acknowledged that although Victoria University is a young university, it has a long, rich history, encompassing a 100 year commitment to providing high quality, accessible education and enriching the community.

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.


Evolution: How Footscray Technical School became Victoria University

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.

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

Moment in time: the Spanish Flu 1918-19

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 began in the trenches of the Western Front.

The pandemic was brought to Australia by returning soldiers.

The Footscray City Council, with the co-operation of Arch Hoadley and his staff and students, 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.

The Centenary Campaign

The Centenary Campaign involved a high level fundraising effort led by the Victoria University Foundation, and funded projects which are consistent with the vision of the University over the course of three years, 2015 – 2018.

These projects included:

  • Creating Opportunity fund – growing a comprehensive and flexible scholarship program that supports the needs of our diverse student community and keeps the door of opportunity open to all.
  • Building a Healthy West – working collaboratively with health providers, industry and local government to improve health and education outcomes in Melbourne's west.
  • New Skills Development Hub – this new TAFE facility at VU’s Sunshine campus will provide opportunities to study construction technologies, advanced manufacturing, health technologies and targeted language, literacy and numeracy programs.
  • The Mitchell Institute – supporting the work of this renowned research centre within VU to develop their work in the advancement of education policy and reform.

Centenary Celebration Highlights

Heritage Day

The first day of the new semester Monday 29 February 2016 marked 100 years since students first attended classes at Footscray Technical School in 1916. To celebrate this special day across all campuses there was lots of colourful activity.

All students received a welcome email from Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins offering his warm wishes for the start of term. Some students even had the opportunity to meet the Vice-Chancellor as he visited a number of classes to say hello and welcome students on their first day of the centenary year. Lecturers also got involved with a centenary introduction at the start of classes.

 man studying an exhibit at the centenary exhibition 2016

Centenary Exhibition

A fascinating exhibition featuring historic memorabilia and artefacts from Victoria University archives was held at VU at MetroWest, a hub for the University in the heart of Footscray.

The three-phase exhibition celebrated the founding of Footscray Technical School in 1916, and the 25th anniversary of VU becoming a university.

The Centenary Exhibition ran over two years and told the story of VU’s founding, from its origins in 1916 as a working man’s college through to its current role as an international university.

Centenary  Gala

More than 450 entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, politicians, philanthropists and educators attended VU’s Centenary of Opportunity Gala, at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall on 21 May.

The current Chancellor of Victoria University, Mr George Pappas AO, welcomed a broad spectrum of special guests to the NGV including the Federal Minister for Education and Training, Senator The Hon. Simon Birmingham, representing the Prime Minister of Australia.

The University of Opportunity & Success

2016 was an opportune time to reflect on our heritage and share our vision for the future – as we strive to create education and training opportunities for students in the West of Melbourne and beyond.

Beyond 2016 however, there are opportunities to use the Centenary to aid us in driving our strategic goals and objectives.

In celebrating our Centenary, we set the following seven objectives:

  • be excellent, engaged and accessible
  • reinvigorate a sense of pride and belonging for all VU staff, past and present
  • shine a spotlight on 100 years of student success
  • highlight our areas of strength and difference
  • build our capacity to transform lives and help more students fulfil their potential
  • demonstrate our commitment to industry and community
  • bring the university community together to celebrate our achievements.