University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne (informally Melbourne University or simply Melbourne) is an Australian public research university located in Melbourne, Victoria. Founded in 1853, it is Australia's second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Times Higher Education ranks Melbourne as 33rd in the world, while the QS World University Rankings places Melbourne 31st in the world. 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 & IT, 13th in Arts and Humanities, 14th in Dentistry and 18th in Medicine.

Melbourne's main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria. Melbourne is a sandstone university and a member of the Group of Eight, Universitas 21 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Since 1872 various residential colleges have become affiliated with the university. There are 12 colleges located on the main campus and in nearby suburbs offering academic, sporting and cultural programs alongside accommodation for Melbourne students and faculty.

Melbourne comprises 11 separate academic units and is associated with numerous institutes and research centres, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and the Grattan Institute. Amongst Melbourne's 15 graduate schools the Melbourne Business School, the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Medical School are particularly well regarded.

Four Australian prime ministers and five governors-general have graduated from Melbourne. Seven Nobel laureates have been students or faculty, the most of any Australian university.


    Melbourne University-South Lawn

    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.


    Cussonia Court, home to the Schools of Classics and Philosophy

    Melbourne University 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 view of the Melbourne Law School, Business and Economics, The Spot and Alan Gilbert Building.

    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.

    Autumn at the university grounds


    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.


    College Crescent and Ormond College in the campus of Melbourne University

    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.

    Researchers at the University of Melbourne have published a paper, ‘Vocational education's variable links to vocations’, that "considers the roles that tertiary education qualifications, in particular mid-level qualifications, play in assisting their graduates to gain entry to and progression in work and how they may be strengthened".


    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).


    Residential colleges

    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.

    Trinity College
    Ormond College
    Janet Clarke Hall
    St Mary's College
    Queen's College
    Newman College
    Medley Hall
    Whitley College, 1965–present
    Ridley College, 1910–2007
    University College, 1937–present
    International House, 1957–present
    Graduate House, 1962–present
    St Hilda's College, 1964–present


    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.


    Baillieu Library in Parkville Campus. January, 2014
    Inside the Baillieu Library in January, 2014

    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
    • Eastern Resource Centre (ERC)
    • Giblin Eunson Library (business, economics and education)
    • Law Library
    • Lenton Parr Music, Visual and Performing Arts Library (formerly VCA Library)
    • Louise Hanson-Dyer Music Library
    • Melbourne School of Land and Environment Library (Burnley, Creswick, Dookie)
    • Veterinary Science Library

    Other campuses

    Melbourne Business School in Parkville

    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.

    Arts and culture

    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.

    The Melbourne Curriculum

    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 Environments
    • 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).

    Professional-entry master's degrees

    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:

    • Juris Doctor
    • Doctor of Medicine
    • Doctor of Dental Surgery
    • Doctor of Optometry
    • Doctor of Physiotherapy
    • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
    • Master of Animal Science
    • Master of Architecture
    • Master of Applied Linguistics
    • Master of Landscape Architecture
    • Master of Biotechnology
    • Master of Engineering
    • Master of Environment
    • Master of Education
    • Master of Forest Science
    • Master of Nursing Science
    • Master of Property and Construction
    • Master of Public Policy and Management
    • Master of Social Work
    • Master of Teaching
    • Master of Urban Horticulture
    • Master of Urban Planning
    • Master of Urban Design
    • Master of Food Science

    Reaction to the Melbourne Curriculum

    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.

    VCA merger and controversy

    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.


    The following is a summary of Melbourne University rankings, numbers in parentheses indicate ranking within Australia:

    Publications 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
    QS World University Rankings 22 (2nd) 19 (1st) 22 (2nd) 22 (2nd) 27 (3rd) 38 (2nd) 36 (2nd) 38 (2nd) 31 (2nd) 36 (2nd) 31 (2nd) 33 (2nd) 42 (2nd)
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 22 (2nd) 19 (1st) 22 (2nd) 27 (2nd) 38 (3rd) 36 (2nd) 36 (1st) 37 (1st) 28 (1st) 34 (1st) 33 (1st) 33 (1st)
    Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities 92 (2nd) 82 (2nd) 82 (2nd) 78 (2nd) 79 (2nd) 73 (2nd) 75 (2nd) 62 (2nd) 60 (1st) 57 (1st) 54 (1st) 44 (1st) 44 (1st)
    (HEEACT) 64 (1st) 58 (1st) 51 (1st) 43 (1st) 45 (1st) 35(1st) 38 (1st)
    Financial Times MBA rank 64 (1st) 72 (2nd) 63 (1st) 69 (1st) 79 (2nd) 75 (2nd) 52 63 53 (2nd) 46 (2nd) 62 (2nd)
    Economist Intelligence Unit's MBA rank 84 (2nd) 26 (1st) 17 (1st) 44 32 (1st) 38 (2nd) 27 (2nd)

    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.

    Discipline R1 No. R2 No.
    Arts & Humanities 2 38 2 35
    Business & Economics 1 39 1 34
    Education 1 35 2 32
    Engineering 1 28 3 28
    Law 1 29 1 28
    Medicine 1 14 1 13
    Science 2 38 3 31


    • Macintyre, S. & Selleck, R.J.W. (2003). A short history of the University of Melbourne. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-85058-8.
    • Selleck, R.J.W. (2003). The Shop: The University of Melbourne, 1850–1939. Melbourne: University of Melbourne Press. 930pp
    • Poynter, John & Rasmussen, Carolyn (1996). A Place Apart – The University of Melbourne: Decades of Challenge. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84584-3.
    • Cain J II and J Hewitt. (2004). Off Course: From Public Place to Marketplace at Melbourne University. Melbourne: Scribe. review


    • McPhee, P. 2005. "From the Acting Vice-Chancellor." Uni News. The University of Melbourne. 03/10/05, p. 3.

    External links