Victoria University Archives: Western Institute

In summary

Established: 1986

Ended: 1991, when it merged with Footscray Institute of Technology to form Victoria University of Technology

Located: St Albans, Melton and Werribee campuses


The Western Institute was established in 1986, following a campaign during 1983-1985 for the increase of higher educational opportunities in the West - particularly outside of the Footscray area, which was already served by Footscray Institute of Technology and Footscray and Newport Colleges of TAFE. Eric Lund was appointed Director, and Bob Hayes, who had worked hard to establish the Institute, was first President of the Council. Students first attended classes in 1987.

The Institute officially began life in a shop in the St Albans Arcade, before moving into portables which had been placed on the site of the former Albion Explosives Factory, McKechnie St, St Albans (what is now the St Albans Campus). Extensive building work in 1987-88 meant that permanent buildings were soon established at St Albans, although the portables continued to be used. 

A campus was also established in Melton, also taking students in January 1987. This was first located in the Melton annexe of the Footscray College of TAFE, before moving to a new campus at the corner of Rees and Wilson Roads (what is now the Melton Campus). Western Institute also quickly moved to establish a campus in Werribee, focusing on Hoppers Lane. The land was purchased by the Institute in 1988; however, work did not begin on the campus until early 1991.

The Institute deliberately sought to attract students from groups under-represented in other institutions, particularly from the Western Region of Melbourne. This included migrants, early school leavers, mature-age students, and those who, due to financial or other concerns, had not previously considered tertiary study. To this end, the Institute offered both TAFE and degree-level courses, and a number of entry-level or preparatory classes. Articulation between TAFE and higher education was encouraged, with students able to use their TAFE marks to gain entry into diploma or degree courses.

Following calls for a university to be established in the West of Melbourne, and based on the recommendations of the Commonwealth State Joint Working Party on University Education in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, the Victoria University of Technology Act was passed in Victorian Parliament in 1990. An agreement was drawn up between Footscray Institute of Technology, Western Institute and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to establish VUT, with the new university to begin operations at the start of 1992. While RMIT pulled out of the merger in 1991, the establishment of VUT continued with the Western Institute and Footscray Institute of Technology.

The Western Institute was formally wound up at the end of 1991, as the new Victoria University of Technology was officially operational as of January 1992.

Premier of Victoria, John Cain, officially opening the
St Albans Campus of Western Institute, April 1987

Holdings in the archives

The Archives holds the following records relating to Western Institute:

  • Council minutes, 1986-91
  • Committees of Council minutes, 1987-91 (includes Resources, Finance, Research, Planning and Staffing Committees)
  • Academic Board minutes, 1987-91
  • Handbooks, 1987-91
  • Graduation Programs, 1987-91
  • Annual Reports, 1987-91
  • Staff newsletters
  • Course pamphlets and leaflets
  • Western Institute Student Union material, including Genesis newspapers, Executive council minutes and promotional material, 1988-91
  • Common Seal
  • Various promotional video recordings, including those made for Open Days and official openings of campuses, 1987-91
  • Staff and student photographs, c. 1987-91
  • Examination papers, 1988-91
  • Course accreditation submissions, 1987-90
  • Certificate Register, 1988-91
  • Files relating to the merger between Western Institute and FIT to form Victoria University of Technology, c. 1990-91
  • Property and works files relating to campuses and buildings, c. 1987-91