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Our Story

Victoria University began its life as the Footscray Technical School in 1916. 

Since that time, our family tree has grown, and the VU you see today has developed into a diverse and multicultural institution.

The Centenary exhibition celebrates the founding of Footscray Technical School in 1916 and the 25th anniversary of the founding of Victoria University.

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

The School was intended by local businesses and the local 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 the School’s purpose and reason for existence.

Victoria University proudly inherits that spirit and tradition.

Our current goals of excellence, engagement and accessibility are based in strong foundations laid nearly a century ago, and echo the commitment we make to all of our communities. 

See the Centenary Exhibition at VU Footscray Park and Footscray Nicholson campuses to see all the historic memorabilia and artefacts, or visit the online VU Archives.


28 Feb 1916

The Footscray Technical School was formally opened by the Hon. H.S.W. Lawson, Minister of Public Instruction. Students began classes the same day.

30 Aug 1916

The foundation stone of the Footscray Technical School (now the Footscray Nicholson campus) was laid by the Minister of Education, the Hon. Thomas Livingston.

13 Sep 1916

On Wednesday 13 September, the Footscray Technical School ran its first annual sports meeting. The championship of the Junior school was decided on the running of three races; the 100,220 and 440 yards, a half mile walk, a high jump, and a broad jump. A cup was given to the champion.

24 Apr 1918

The Engineering school was officially opened. The School originally taught Mechanical, Electrical and Marine engineering with Civil Engineering added in 1920.

21 Feb 1919

The influenza epidemic of the great war saw the Footscray Technical School shut down and repurposed as a hospital. Although the decision to do this was taken by the Footscray Council on 31 January, it was several weeks before the School was prepared. Students were sent to the South Melbourne Technical School, and Arch Hoadley stayed on as Hospital Superintendent.



1 Jan 1936

Female students were admitted to study in the evening, with the introduction of dressmaking and typewriting classes.


24 Sep 1941

The foundation stone of the 'Ballarat Road campus' of the Footscray Technical School (now the Footscray Park campus) was laid by Sir John Harris, Minister of Public Instruction.

1 Dec 1941

First publication of "The Blue and Gold" school magazine.

1 Jan 1943

The Ballarat Road Campus (now the Footscray Park campus) opens as the Footscray Technical School Junior School, with the Senior School remaining at Nicholson Street. Building A was the first building constructed.

27 Feb 1947

Death of Charles Archibald Hoadley.


29 Jun 1953

A fire at the Ballarat Road campus in Building A badly damaged the earliest records of the School.

1 Jan 1958

Footscray Technical School becomes Footscray Technical College.


1 Jan 1960

With the commencement of full-day courses in Commerce and Commercial Practice, the Footscray Technical College admits its first female day students, with six women enrolling in Commerce.

6 Oct 1966

The Footscray Technical College holds a Jubilee Celebration, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Footscray Technical School.

1 Jan 1968

Footscray Technical College is renamed Footscray Institute of Technology.


3 Jul 1972

The secondary school separates from Footscray Institute of Technology, but remains on the Ballarat Road campus until the early 1980s.


27 Mar 1981

Footscray enjoys some pomp and ceremony, with a Royal visit by Prince Philip, who opens Building L at the Footscray Park campus.

23 Aug 1983

Footscray Institute of Technology and China's Beijing Institute of Physical Education enter into a sister relationship. The agreement provided for the exchange of staff, students and information regarding physical education teaching and research, and was the first agreement of its kind between Australian and Chinese academic institutions in the fields of physical education.

1 Jan 1984

Establishment of the Flagstaff College of TAFE.

29 Sep 1986

Western Institute established.


27 AUG 1990

Creighton Burns AO becomes the first Chancellor of Victoria University of Technology.

1 Jan 1991

The foundation Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University of Technology is named as Professor Jarlath Ronayne.

4 Oct 1991

A final graduation ceremony for the graduates of the Footscray Institute of Technology is held. Honorary Degrees were presented, and Honorary Fellowships were presented to all past and present members of the Footscray Institute of Technology Council. This was prior to the merger of the Footscray Institute of Technology with the Western Institute (to form Victoria University of Technology).

1 Jan 1992

Victoria University of Technology opens. The first day of semester was 2 March 1992.

20 Jun 1995

Dr Peter Laver becomes the second Chancellor of Victoria University of Technology.

1 Jul 1998

An amalgamation between the Western Melbourne Institute of TAFE and Victoria University of Technology takes place.


1 Jun 2001

Victoria University of Technology gains a new Chancellor when Justice Frank Vincent AO QC joins the Council leadership.

1 Oct 2003

Professor Elizabeth Harman becomes the second Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University of Technology.

1 Mar 2005

Victoria University of Technology is renamed Victoria University.


13 May 2010

The inauguration of a new Chancellor, Mr George Pappas, takes place.

1 Jan 2011

Professor Peter Dawkins becomes the third Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University.

21 Nov 2011

A new strategic plan is released. "Excellent, Engaged and Accessible: Victoria University's Strategic Plan to be a great University of the 21st Century, 2012 - 2016" becomes a roadmap for the direction of the institution.

17 Sep 2013

Victoria University and Maribyrnong City Council sign a Memorandum of Understanding to partner in a project to make Footscray the first University Town in an Australian capital city.


As part of the Footscray University Town initiative, Victoria University brings its activities into the centre of Footscray. VU at Metro West opens, and the sod is turned on brand new student accommodation in Tiernan Street, Footscray, opposite the Footscray Park campus.


Proudly celebrating a centenary of opportunity