International House (University of Melbourne)

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International House
University of Melbourne
IH Melbourne Dimmick Courtyard.jpg
International House Melbourne logo.png
Crest of International House
Location 241 Royal Parade
Parkville, Victoria
Coordinates 37°47′18″S 144°57′29″E / 37.78833°S 144.95806°E / -37.78833; 144.95806Coordinates: 37°47′18″S 144°57′29″E / 37.78833°S 144.95806°E / -37.78833; 144.95806
Motto Fraternitas
Motto in English Brotherhood
Established 1957
Warden Dr. Deborah Seifert
Undergraduates 281
Postgraduates 55
Tutors 17

International House is the second largest residential college of the University of Melbourne. It provides co-educational accommodation to 350 undergraduate and graduate students who are attending the University of Melbourne and nearby tertiary institutions. It is situated at 241 Royal Parade, Parkville.

The college was opened in 1957 and is still owned by the University of Melbourne. It was the first International House in Australia.


Colombo Plan[edit]

Shortly after the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Australian government invited university students from countries in South and South East Asia to study in Australia as part of an aid program called the Colombo Plan. A significant number of these Colombo Plan students came to the University of Melbourne.

Various groups within and outside the University of Melbourne were interested in making these students feel welcome and assisting them to form friendships with Australian students. At the time, racial misconceptions were profoundly impacting international students looking for suitable accommodation and were creating feelings of mistrust between people of different cultures. It was felt that the establishment of a new residential college for local and overseas students would develop interpersonal relationships between students and help increase ties between nations.

Fundraising and establishment[edit]

The model of this new residential college was inspired by the International Houses Worldwide Movement, and International Houses which were already operating successfully in Europe and the United States.

Fundraising by the student community and various community and women’s groups began in the early 1950s, and enjoyed a remarkably wide base of community support.[1] The Rotary Club of Melbourne was heavily involved in establishing International House. This involvement has continued to the present.

It was the first International House to be built in Australia, and a lot of supporters took pleasure out of building the college for this purpose.[1] The original designated site for International House was at 231 – 241 Royal Parade and was purchased in September 1953 for £13,500. Its primary attractiveness was that it was away from the University of Melbourne ‘College Crescent’ and the Parkville campus, allowing residents to spend more time ‘at home’ than at university.[2]

The Clunies Ross Wing was the first building to be established at International House, and the college opened in 1957 for its first intake of forty-two men from Australia and overseas as an independent, multi-cultural, self-supporting residential college owned and operated by the University of Melbourne. It was officially opened the following year by the Prime Minister of Australia of the day, the Right Honorable Sir Robert Menzies.

Admission of women[edit]

In 1972 International House became the first residential college of the University of Melbourne to admit female residents. While the idea was firmly part of its establishment proposal, upon opening the college, the International House Council favoured a conservative position, fearing the inclusion of women would call into question the moral tone of the college.

Despite attempts by various people in later years to admit women to International House, the matter was laid to rest until June 1971 when the International House Council readdressed the matter and agreed unanimously that International House admit women the following year.[3] An equal gender balance was sought, and in 1972 women moved into the College, albeit on separate female-only floors.[3] In later years mixed floors became the norm, as it currently is today.


The college arms are a blue and yellow shield containing three migratory birds in the lower segment, symbolising the distance the students travel to live at International House. The image of a goddess, derived from the University of Melbourne's coat of arms, watches over these birds protectively, while offering an olive branch of peace.


Underneath the shield is the Latin word Fraternitas, which means "brotherhood".


Clunies Ross Wing[edit]

The Clunies Ross Wing, commonly known as ‘Clunies’, was the first accommodation building established by International House. It was named after Sir Ian Clunies Ross, the first chair of the International House Council. Clunies Ross was the Chair of Rotary International’s Service Committee at the time,[4] and also a former Deputy Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.[5] Clunies is the building where freshers can expect to stay in their first year at the college.

Clunies is adjoined to the nearby Dimmick Dining Hall. Its construction began in 1956[6] and was formally opened on 24 May 1958 by the then Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies.

Wadham Wing[edit]

The Wadham Wing was named after Sir Samuel Wadham, the second Chair of the International House Council. It was opened by (Lord) Richard Casey on 23 March 1963.[7] Wadham contains the main administration offices, a gym and the formal entrance to the College.

Scheps Building[edit]

The Scheps Building is an iconic, six storey hexagonal residence located at 207-215 Royal Parade. The land upon which the Scheps Building is built was acquired by International House in 1965, although the building was not completed and opened until 1972 – the same year that women were admitted to the college. The name reflects the Scheps family’s generosity to International House in the beginning.

Hilda Stevenson Building[edit]

The Hilda Stevenson Building is located on Leonard Street in Parkville. It was purchased by International House in 1966 and was initially called the ‘Rudd Stevenson’ building before it was renamed after Dame Hilda Stevenson, who had been a generous benefactor to International House. Its acquisition provided allowed International House to expand the Dimmick Dining Hall northwards, and this project was completed in 1970 after a fire destroyed the roof of the old dining hall.[8]

Originally built for the Scottish stained glass merchant James Ferguson in 1886, the building had belonged to the Victorian Children’s Aid Society Home before it was acquired by International House.[9] Its elegant Gothic Revival architecture is interlaced with beautiful stained glass windows on the north and southern ends.

Greycourt Building[edit]

Greycourt is a large, Victorian building on Royal Parade. Originally built as a school (Carlton College) in 1881, it was acquired by International House in 1975 from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, who had been using the building as nurses’ quarters.[10]

The acquisition of the Greycourt Building was a pivotal moment in the development of International House. The College’s enrolment numbers jumped to 245 students that year (1975), which placed International House as the second largest of the University of Melbourne residential colleges, behind Ormond College.[10] It had taken just 18 years from the first student entry in 1957 to develop a massive infrastructure of buildings, facilities and grounds.

The Bob Fels Apartments[edit]

The Bob Fels Apartments are located at 16 – 20 The Avenue, Parkville and consist of 14 apartments. The Apartments were acquired by International House in 1996 and were formerly known as ‘The Avenue Apartments’ until they were renamed after Mr Robert Fels, a former Warden of International House from 1982 - 1997.[11]

Dimmick Apartments[edit]

The Dimmick apartments are two flats adjoined to the back of the Dimmick Dining Hall above the kitchens, and were opened in 1998. The Apartments are used for senior students.

Founders Building[edit]

Opened in February 2005, the Founders Building contains the Angus Mitchell Library and a 24-hour computer lab on the ground floor. The Founders Building was named in honor of the various groups and individuals who conceived the idea of establishing an International House in Melbourne and for those with a driving conviction and strong commitment that made it a reality. It is built on the site of the old International House squash courts, which existed at the site from 1969 – 2003.

Ida Scheps Wing (now the George Hicks Building)[edit]

Formerly known as the Ida Scheps Wing, the terrace house located at 197 – 205 Royal Parade serves as a tutorial and function space for the College. It was acquired by International House from the University of Melbourne in 1964. From time until December 2014 it was named for the wife of Theodore Alexander Scheps, who gave a sizeable donation to help secure the building for International House.[8]

George Hicks Building[edit]

The George Hicks Building was opened in January 2015 with the need to provide for graduate student accommodation. Planning began in 2009 and construction began on 14 August 2013 on the site of the former multi-purpose court, which was relocated to the north-east corner of the College. It incorporates the former Ida Scheps Wing at 197 Royal Parade and provides 57 apartments, academic facilities and a café for use by the college community.

Heads of College[edit]

1957 – 1959 Brian Jones[6]
1960 – 1970 S.G. McL. Dimmick[12]
1971 – 1972 Gilbert H. Vasey[13]
1972 – 1981 John F. Hopkins[13]
1982 – 1997 Robert M. Fels[13]
1997 – 1999 Dr Brian Corbitt[13]
2000 – 2003 Associate Professor Donald Stewart[13]
2004 – 2014 Associate Professor Jane Munro AM[13]
2015 – Dr Deborah Seifert[14]

Student life[edit]

International House has capacity for 283 undergraduate students, 56 graduate students and 17 residential academic staff. Over half the students are international, from 39 countries around the world. It consists of nine residential buildings with associated dining, educational and recreational facilities located within 1.5 hectares of gardens.


International House has always placed a strong emphasis on diversity within the student population. The largest single national group is Australian students who form 33-40% of the population. International students living at the college are from 39 different countries around the world. Approximately equal numbers of males and females studying a range of courses are accepted.

Academic program and library[edit]

International House provides supplementary tutorials for its residents in over 50 different university subjects. The tutorial program is run by a team of residential tutors, who live in residence at the College and are easily accessible for consultations. In addition to providing academic support, the tutors are also responsible for providing emotional and pastoral care to the residents.

The Angus Mitchell Library was named after the president of Rotary International (1948 – 1949) and is housed in the Founders Building. It has an extensive collection of volumes that have an emphasis on Australia and South East Asia, including core undergraduate textbooks. Book are available to be borrowed when semester is in session, however sharing of core textbooks is possible due to high demand.

Social and cultural activities[edit]

Cultural events, stage performances, music nights and other events.


Satadal is the year book produced by International House students each year. The first Satadal was published in 1959, two years after International House officially opened. Satadal is a Sanskrit word used to suggest unity in diversity, and harmony in multiformity. It is symbolised by the Lotus flower.

Sporting activities[edit]

Sport is an important part of life at International House. Both undergraduate and graduate students participate in the University of Melbourne’s Intercollegiate Sporting Program, including cricket, softball, squash, athletics, soccer, hockey, rowing, netball, AFL, volleyball, badminton and swimming.

Thai Rural and Educational Development (TREAD) Program[edit]

The Thai Rural and Educational Development Program (formerly the Banana Project) is a development initiative run by students at International House in association with the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in Thailand. As part of this program, students work to improve the living conditions, education and opportunities of people living in remote village in Thailand. The project was started by International House alumnus Khun Mechai Viravaidya.

Rotary involvement[edit]

Rotary has been a major supporter of International House since its beginning. The Rotary Club of Melbourne worked hard in the early 1950s to raise funds to establish the College. Sir Angus Mitchell, President of Rotary International, had seen the value of International Houses overseas and encouraged the idea of establishing an International House in Victoria.

Robert Fels (Warden 1982 – 1997) established the Royce Abbey Room in the Greycourt Building, which provided a venue for Rotary meetings and ensured ongoing Rotary links. Now housed in the Hilda Stevenson Building, the room also showcases Royce’s collection of memorabilia from his time as President of Rotary International from 1988 – 1989.

The Rotary clubs of Melbourne, Central Melbourne Sunrise, Altona, Gisborne, District 9800 and Rotary International have remained involved with International House through their support of the Café International, fundraising, scholarships and through the donation of library and sporting equipment.


  1. ^ a b Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.7. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  2. ^ Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.9. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  3. ^ a b Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.39. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  4. ^ Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.4. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  5. ^ Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.13. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  6. ^ a b Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.12. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  7. ^ Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.29. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  8. ^ a b Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.30. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  9. ^ International House (2009). "Satadal", p.134.
  10. ^ a b Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.37. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  11. ^ Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.46. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  12. ^ Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.19. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Humphreys, LR (2004). "Of Many Nations: A History of International House, The University of Melbourne", p.83. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0734030231.
  14. ^

External links[edit]