La Trobe University

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La Trobe University
LTU Armorial CMYK small.PNG
Coat of Arms of La Trobe University[Note 1][Note 2]
Latin: Universitas La Trobeana [Note 3]
Motto Qui cherche trouve (French)
Motto in English
Whoever seeks shall find
Established 9 December 1964
Type Public research-intensive university
Endowment $627 million[3]
Chancellor Adrienne Clarke,[4] AO
Vice-Chancellor John Dewar
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 35,073[5]
Undergraduates 26,770[5]
Postgraduates 8,126[5]
Location Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Campus Metropolitan and Regional
(Melbourne Campus)
267 hectares (2.7 km2)
Named after Charles La Trobe
Colours Grey      Cardinal     
Nickname 'Trobian', 'Old Charlie'[Note 4]
Mascot Wedge-tailed eagle[6]
Affiliations Universities Australia, INU, IRU, ACU
La Trobe University logo.svg

La Trobe University is an Australian public university whose flagship campus, the largest metropolitan campus in the country,[Note 5] is located in Melbourne, Victoria. The university was established in 1964 following the assent of the La Trobe University Act by Victorian Parliament on 9 December of that year, becoming the third university in the State.[8] While it does not share the architectural aesthetics of its sandstone peers, at its core La Trobe, as much as Monash, was 'among the last of the old universities in Australia.'[Note 6] Of the many aspirations set upon La Trobe by its distinguished founders, one of its most prominent achievements, and a great source of university pride, has been its long-standing commitment to providing access to higher education to those traditionally excluded from the sector. In 2015 it was ranked in the top 100 universities under 50 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[10]

La Trobe's flagship campus is located in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora with two other major campuses located in the regional Victorian city of Bendigo and in the twin border cities of Albury-Wodonga. The university has two smaller regional campuses in Mildura and Shepparton, and three minor CBD campuses: two in Melbourne on Franklin Street and Collins Street, and one on York Street in Sydney.

La Trobe offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses across its two colleges of Arts, Social Science and Commerce (ASSC) and Science, Health and Engineering (SHE). ASSC consists of the four schools of Business, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Law, while SHE consists of the nine schools of Allied Health, Applied Systems Biology, Cancer Medicine, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Life Sciences, Molecular Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery, Psychology and Public Health and Rural Health.[11]

La Trobe is considered to be particularly strong in the area of arts and humanities; this was reflected in the 2014 QS World University Rankings where it was ranked in the top 200 international universities for Arts and Humanities. It was ranked 38th in the world in the fields of archaeology, ancient history and classics, while sociology, communication, media studies and linguistics all scored in the top 100.[12] It was also ranked in the top 100 universities for arts and humanities in the 2014-15 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[13] La Trobe also features a strong Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program which has been ranked in the top 200 Business Schools by QS Global Rankings since 2010.[14] In 2014 the La Trobe MBA was ranked 14th in Asia, 4th in Australia and 2nd in Victoria by QS Global Rankings.[15]

In terms of research quality, the university exhibits strength in the areas of arts and humanities, and biological and biotechnical sciences. In 2012 La Trobe was ranked 3rd[16] in Victoria in the Australian Research Council's Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) report.

For most of its history La Trobe has been regarded as a bastion of radical and progressive thought within Australia, largely emanating from strong student activism at the university during the 1960s and 1970s.[Note 7] While not as prevalent as it was in the 20th century, it is a reputation that is still held.[Note 8]


The passing of the Act of Victorian Parliament[19] to establish La Trobe University followed earlier University Acts to establish the University of Melbourne (1853) and Monash University (1958).[9]:3 The Minister of Education at the time and the appointed planning council were 'unanimous in their enthusiasm that the new institution should be innovative in its approach',[20] and the university adopted an academic structure based on schools of studies (rather than on faculties) and a collegiate format, where a large number of students lived on campus. At this time, Flinders University and Macquarie University were also establishing a schools-based system.

Many prominent Victorians were involved in La Trobe's establishment process, and there was a strong belief that it was important to increase research and learning in Victoria. One of the major individuals involved was Davis McCaughey, who later became Governor of Victoria. The university was named after Charles Joseph La Trobe, the first Governor of Victoria, and the university motto, 'whoever seeks shall find', is adapted from Charles La Trobe's family motto.[9]:3 The La Trobe University Coat of Arms incorporates the scallop shells from the La Trobe family bearings, the Australian wedge-tailed eagle to represent Australia, and sprigs of heath to represent Victoria.[21]


The origins of La Trobe can be traced back to the post-World War II era where there emerged a global recognition of the need to increase facilities for higher education.[Note 9] In 1957 Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies established a special committee to report on the future of Australian universities, inviting Sir Keith Murray, Chairman of the University Grants Committee of Great Britain, to chair it. The Murray Committee, in a far-reaching report submitted in September 1957, recommend a major expansion of university facilities in Australia, and changes in administration and financing.[1]:21

As a direct consequence of the key recommendations of the Murray report, the federal government established the Australian Universities Commission (AUC) in 1959, appointing Sir Leslie Martin as its chair.[1]:21 Menzies appointed Martin to chair a special committee in 1961 to report to the AUC on the rapidly increasing demands for higher education in Australia.[1]:21 In August 1963 it released its second report, which recognised the urgency of Victoria's situation '…the resources of Melbourne and Monash Universities are not likely to meet the long-term demands for university education beyond 1966. The Commission therefore is willing to support in the 1964–1966 triennium the extension of University facilities in the Melbourne metropolitan area.'[1]:21–22 Following the recommendations the federal government passed the Universities Assistance Bill in October 1963, providing a grant for a 'third' university for recurrent expenditure in 1965 of $106,000 and $210,000 in 1966. The first capital grant was for 1966 and amounted to $1,000,000. These grants were to be matched by equivalent state grants.[1]:21–22


The Third University Committee[edit]

In April 1964, Sir Archibald Glenn was invited by the Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte to chair a 'Third University Committee'.[1]:23 In addition to Sir Archibald, thirteen other members were announced on 21 May 1964. The committee, therefore, consisted of:[22]

The terms of reference of the committee were to advise the government on all matters concerning the establishment of a third Victorian university. This consisted of 'the selection of the site, the preparation of a detailed development program, planning and calling tenders for buildings, the formulating of an administrative structure, the appointment of an Academic Planning Board and the recruitment of key staff.' It was planned that La Trobe would enrol students, if possible, in March 1967.[1]:23

Selecting the site[edit]

The first meeting of the committee occurred on 2 June 1964 in the rooms of the Historical Society of Victoria on Victoria Street. From there, they acted promptly in seeking out a suitable metropolitan location, inspecting 27 sites from a list of 57 possibilities.[Note 10]

The main constraints facing all options were area- 'adequate for a full and balanced university'; cost - preferably Crown owned land, as private land would require large compensation payments; and locality - somewhere reasonably close to the demographic centre of Melbourne (calculated to be in the Camberwell area) and to public transport.[9]:5

A subcommittee, headed by Dr Phillip Law, quickly recognised that 'somewhere on the eastern side of Melbourne stands out as the right location', however, Monash was already growing in the southeastern suburbs, and so an alternative area was sought.[9]:5 An early list of possibilities read:

'Outer- Bundoora, Lilydale, Channel O. Inner- Burnley Horticultural College, Wattle Park, Caulfield racecourse, Kew Mental Asylum'[9]:6

Selection of an inner site was unlikely, as they were mostly 'either inadequate or unattainable, especially the racecourse,' however, the Kew site was a real possibility.[9]:6

The 'ultimate choice' was unanimously agreed upon by the end of July, resulting in the farm attached to the Mont Park Asylum. Dr Cunningham Dax, head of the Mental Health Authority, was 'most co-operative', although he raised concerns that the loss of the farm would be serious for the hospital. An alternative site for the farm was procured a little further out on Plenty Road, resolving the issue.[1]:23

Naming the university[edit]

While it was an interesting interpretation of a "local name", La Trobe, proposed by Fitzpatrick,[23] was agreed unanimously upon by the planning committee after some alternatives, such as Deakin, were "thoughtfully put aside".[Note 11] Victorian State Parliamentarians, however, were far from unanimous when they came to debate the La Trobe University Bill.[Note 12]

Sir Archibald Glenn, chairman of the committee, provided a concise summary for why La Trobe was chosen:

"Lieutenant-Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe has great historic significance for Victoria and his name is recognised internationally. La Trobe was not a university man...[Note 13] but he appears to have had almost every quality, one would desire in one. He had a lively interest in every aspect of life of the community, the will to work for the good of other men, and a sense of responsibility towards prosperity.'[1]:24

The Victorian Minister for Education, Sir John Bloomfield, upon presenting the enabling bill to Victorian Parliament, reflected on the influence of Charles La Trobe in the foundation of the University of Melbourne over a hundred years before, concluding "my most satisfying reflection at this moment is that my father's father sought for gold in our hills, and he knew this city in the days of the man whom, at the behest of others, I am now trying to acknowledge. If Providence and this Parliament will it, my son's son may be taught in his aura and tradition."[25]:39–40

Although La Trobe, like his father, used "La Trobe" and "Latrobe" interchangeably,[26] the committee selected the spelling that was predominantly used by his side of the family.[26]

Early years[edit]

Martin Building in autumn.

La Trobe University was officially opened by Victorian premier Sir Henry Bolte on 8 March 1967 in a ceremony that was attended by a number of dignitaries including the Prime Minister of Australia Robert Menzies.[27]:31 Teaching commenced at the Bundoora campus in the first semester of that year, with some 500 students.[9]:3 La Trobe was seen to be unique amongst Australian universities due to its schools-based, collegiate structure. At the time, "this novel approach became commonly known in the university as 'The La Trobe Concept'".[28] Within 4 years, however, this format had all but broken down, with the collegiate ideal reduced to halls of residence and the schools becoming departmentalised.[20]

Up until the late 1980s, La Trobe focused almost exclusively on the liberal arts and science. This was complimented with a strong professional school when it merged with the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences in 1988, which is now the University's Faculty of Health Sciences offering several professional health science programs including physiotherapy, podiatry and occupational therapy. Since then, the University has established other professional schools, including its Law School in 1992, which was previously a Legal Studies Department that was established in 1972. In 2008, Victoria's second dentistry school was established at La Trobe. However, despite being a leading Australian university in professional health and biomedical sciences, La Trobe does not have a medical school. When planned and developed in the 1960s, there was strong expectation that La Trobe would eventually establish a medical school and a teaching hospital.[29]

The Bendigo campus of La Trobe dates back to 1873: the Bendigo College of Advanced Education amalgamated with La Trobe University in 1991, completing a process that began in the late 1980s as part of the Dawkins reforms to higher education. During the merger process, a controversial issue erupted when the university's head office in Bundoora raised concerns about the academic standards at Bendigo CAE. This led to a public outcry in which Bendigo CAE students threatened the Bendigo Advertiser over publishing the matter in its newspapers. Several newspapers were burned in the protest.

The inclusion of the Wodonga Institute of Tertiary Education took place in the same year. The university has continued to expand, with the opening of the Research and Development Park at Bundoora, and the upcoming opening of a second Melbourne CBD site.

Funding and cutbacks[edit]

Higher education reforms by the Howard government allowed Australian universities to increase fees and take in a greater number of full-fee paying students. Despite a large student backlash, La Trobe took advantage of the reforms, increasing fees by 25% in 2005.[30] Around the same time, the university suffered cutbacks in government funding,[31] a problem experienced across most of the Australian higher education sector.

La Trobe has lost funding disproporionately across its departments. For instance, the History Department at the university was once by far the largest of any institution in Australia; however, funding restrictions have led to a significant reduction in its size. Similarly, in 1999, the Music Department was closed due to funding cuts. The university's African Research Institute, the only major African studies centre in Australasia, was closed at the end of 2006.[32] In 2008, the university cut the Philosophy and Religious Studies Program at the Bendigo campus, the change resulted in the stream only being taught as a minor.

In 2008, La Trobe was operating with a $1.46 million surplus but has highlighted that by 2010 it will "review, and where appropriate, restructure all academic, administrative and committee structures"[33] to deal with diminished student intakes, falling entrance marks, below-par scores on student satisfaction surveys and a decreasing proportion of national research funding.[31][34] In an attempt to address these issues, the university is making cut backs and restructuring several courses under the direction of the Vice-Chancellor, John Dewar.[31][34] As of 2013, the university is operating on a 28 million dollar surplus[35]


The principal governing body of the university is the council. The council is composed of the chancellor, the vice-chancellor, the chair of the academic board, three persons elected by and from the staff of the university, two persons elected by and from the enrolled students of the university, six persons appointed by the governor in council, one person appointed by the minister administering the act and six other persons appointed by the council.

Under Section 8 of the act that established the university, the council has the entire direction and superintendence of the university. Some of the council's more important responsibilities and functions under the act include:

  • making Statutes and regulations for or with respect to all matters concerning the University (section 28);
  • appointing and monitoring the performance of the Vice-Chancellor (section 8);
  • approving the mission and strategic direction of the University (section 8);
  • approving the annual budget and business plan of the University (section 8);
  • overseeing and reviewing the management of the University and its performance (section 8);
  • establishing the policy and procedural principles for the operation of the University (section 8);
  • overseeing and monitoring the assessment and management risk across the University (section 8);
  • overseeing and monitoring the academic activities of the University (section 8);
  • approving and monitoring systems of control and accountability of the University, including those required to maintain a general overview of any entity over which the University has control within the meaning of section 3 of the Audit Act 1994 (section 8);
  • approving any significant university commercial activities (section 8);
  • conferring and granting degrees, diplomas and other academic awards to students (section 10).

The council is also empowered under section 18 of the act to delegate powers, authority, duties and functions to any member of the council, or to any officer or committee of the university.


The vice-chancellor is the chief executive officer of the university (Section 26 of the act) and is responsible to the council for the discharge of his or her powers, functions and duties. John Dewar, former Provost of the University of Melbourne assumed the role Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University in January 2012. Dewar is an internationally-known family law specialist and researcher. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, where he was also a Fellow of Hertford College. Dewar was preceded by economic historian Paul Johnson, formerly a deputy director of the London School of Economics. Before Johnson, Roger Parish served as interim vice-chancellor for a few months and Brian Stoddart, who took up the position in December 2005 (ratified 6 February 2006) after previous incumbent, Michael Osborne, resigned following allegations about extensive overseas travel.[36] Osborne had been in the position since 1990 and in one of the most controversial events in the university's administrative history, his tenure was extended for seven years in 1994 by the then chancellor, Nancy Millis, without consultation of the board.

The current chancellor is Adrienne Clarke AC, appointed by the university council on 26 February 2011.

A former Governor of Victoria, Richard McGarvie, was chancellor from 1981 to 1992.


As of 2010, La Trobe was running a budget surplus of $28.5 million. In this year the University took in $618.1 million in income which came from a variety of sources, broken down by order of size, the universities income came from the following:

  • 40% from the Australian government
  • 22% from fees and charges
  • 17% from HECS
  • 11% from other revenue
  • 7% from consultancy and contract research[35]

The university had expenditures of $516.9 million which can be broken down to the following:

  • 66% to employee benefits
  • 10% to other
  • 8% to professional fees
  • 6% to repairs, refurbishment and maintenance
  • 5% to depreciation
  • 2% to publications
  • 2% to travel[35]

As of 2010, the university had assets worth $1.22 billion and an endowment of $267 million.[35][needs update]


The university has two colleges, made up of several schools, offering courses at all levels:[37]

  • College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce:
    • School of Business
    • School of Education
    • School of Humanities and Social Sciences
    • School of Law
  • College of Science, Health and Engineering:
    • School of Allied Health
    • School of Applied Systems Biology
    • School of Cancer Medicine
    • School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences
    • School of Life Sciences
    • School of Molecular Sciences
    • School of Nursing and Midwifery
    • School of Psychology and Public Health
    • School of Rural Health

Admissions and retention[edit]

The university received 12% of VTAC first preferences in 2010[38] and had a retention rate of 82%. 81.4% of La Trobe graduates find employment, the national average being 79.2%. The University, as of 2013, has an EFTSL (equivalent Full-Time Student Unit) of 35,073, consisting of an international student population of 7,737.[5]


La Trobe University is a member of the Innovative Research Network of universities in Australia, a group that collectively receives over $340 million in research grants.

La Trobe University has been confirmed as one of Australia's leading research universities, climbing to third in Victoria, based on the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) 2012 report.[39]

La Trobe is the top ranked institution in the nation for research in Microbiology and equal top with just one other University in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and in Veterinary Sciences. Historical Studies and Archaeology were also both assessed at the top ranking.[40]

The ERA 2012 report shows La Trobe University has made very significant improvements over the past two years, with the number of fields of research in specific disciplines rated at world standard or above (ERA 3 – 5) rising by 31 per cent, from 29 to 38 in 2012. The increase in the publications rated at 'well above' world standard has increased from about 400 to about 1800, which is more than 300%.

The results are in line with the research investment strategy in research physical infrastructure such as the LIMS and AgriBio projects, and will inform further development of research concentration. This will be important to ensure further improvement in research quality and output in the University in line with the Strategic Plan[41]

Visualisation laboratory[edit]

The eResearch Office, in conjunction with Associate Professor Paul Pigram, Head of Physics, and VeRSI (Victorian eResearch Strategic Initiative) announced the completion of a project to establish a dedicated home for the Virtual Beam Line to the Synchrotron and La Trobe's first Visualisation Laboratory.

This new space allows for the remote use of scientific instruments and imaging of scientific data. La Trobe now has the capability for interactive and immersive research collaboration, visualization of simulations and deep imaging. The visualisation lab will also act as a remote training laboratory and classroom for teaching instrument-centric science and exposing students to the laboratory experience. The combination of developing a visualisation lab which can also handle the Remote VBL facility is perfect for integration of various visualisation capabilities in the Physics arena[41]

La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science[edit]

The La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS) is an interdisciplinary research institute based at the university. It contains research groups in life sciences (Biochemistry and genetics), physical sciences (chemistry and Physics), and applied sciences (pharmacy) and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in these areas through the School of Molecular Sciences.[42] It also contains two biotech companies: Hexima[43] and AdAlta.[44] The institute is housed in three buildings: LIMS1 and LIMS2 in the centre of the university’s main campus in Bundoora, and the Applied Science building in the Bendigo campus.


The La Trobe AgriBio building, on the south eastern side of the university, has grown into a structure over four levels with a number of external buildings under construction such as a large glasshouse and poly-house complex. Whilst the internal fit-out continues across all quadrants, it is clear that the majority of the structural work is now complete.

The finished product will be a world-class research environment including highly functional and flexible spaces, collaborative breakout areas, open plan office space with abundant natural light, and a huge open foyer featuring large glass atrium and café.

The centre will open its doors to researchers by the end of 2011, creating a cutting-edge hub for attracting the world's leading scientists and collaborators. The first inhabitants will include 100 researchers and students from La Trobe's Agriculture and Botany departments and another 300 from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI). A key objective of AgriBio is to facilitate science collaboration between La Trobe and DPI, leading to better science outcomes for the benefit of Victoria and Australia[41]

Archaeology & the Australian Archaeomagnetism Laboratory[edit]

Archaeology at La Trobe University is taught within the Department of Archaeology, Environment and Community Planning (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) and was graded at the highest level possible (5) for research in the 2012 Excellence for Research in Australia initiative (ERA).[45] La Trobe Archaeology has major focuses in Australian Indigenous Archaeology, African Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, Palaeolithic Archaeology, Middle Eastern Prehistoric Archaeology, Australian Historical Archaeology, Biomolecular Archaeology, Geoarchaeology and Archaeological Science. La Trobe Archaeology currently runs excavations, field schools and conducts research in Australia, Jordan, South Africa, Kenya, Bulgaria, France, and Cyprus. This includes the Australian Palaeoanthropological Field School at the Drimolen early hominin site in South Africa, run jointly with the University of Johannesburg. Archaeology is also aligned to La Trobe's research focus area in Transforming Human Societies. In 2011 the University, in conjunction with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor Andy Herries,[46] built the Australian Archaeomagnetism Laboratory[47] (TAAL), based within the Department of Archaeology, Environment and Community Planning. The main aim and focus of research in the laboratory is promoting the use of magnetic methods of analysis (palaeomagnetism, rock magnetism, archaeomagnetic dating, magnetostratigraphy) for understanding the age, palaeoenvironmental/climate context and site formation history of archaeological and fossil sites, as well as archaeometric archaeometry) analysis of archaeological artefacts for understanding behavioural information such as material sourcing and the development of pyrotechnology. The laboratory also undertakes other research with the Department of Physics, including comparative work at the Australian Synchrotron. In conjunction with the Geomagnetism Laboratory at the University of Liverpool TAAL has a major focus on reconstructing palaeosecular variation from southern hemisphere archaeological sources (mostly in Australia and southern Africa) over the last 5 Ma, with the aim of constructing an Australian Archaeomagnetic Curve. This currently includes work on the 50 ka long sequence of human occupation at Lake Mungo in Australia where La Trobe Archaeology directs field excavations and survey. In 2011 the laboratory was involved in dating the age of the new South African hominin species Australopithecus sediba, which was published in the journal "Science".[48] TAAL's director, Associate Professor Herries is currently an Australian Research Council funded Future Fellow in the Geochronology of Human Evolution and is a recognized world leader in the magnetic analysis of karst deposits (caves sediments and speleothem, e.g., stalagmites). He been responsible with colleagues for providing many of the first dates for South African hominin sites. African Archaeology and Paleoanthropology is a major focus of the TAAL and Archaeology at La Trobe. Main focuses of research in the laboratory are 1) the role of heat treatment of stone for the manufacture of stone tools in the archaeological record; 2) the age of Australian marsupial fossil sites; 3) creating a chronological framework for the Palaeolithic and human evolution in Africa and Asia; 4) reconstructing occupation intensity, spatial patterning, fire use and palaeoclimatic records from archaeological sites. La Trobe Archaeology in conjunction with the School of Molecular Sciences also runs a stable isotope facility directed by ARC Future Fellow Dr Colin Smith.[49] The laboratories main research emphasis is investigating the preservation of biomolecules in archaeological skeletal tissue and how this affects the information they contain.

Library collection strengths[edit]

African collection[edit]

The collection of English language African materials commenced in the mid 1960s during the university's establishment and consists of approximately 25,000 to 30,000 print titles. The majority of the collections is post-1966 material, focusing on sub-Saharan history and politics, works of literature by African writers and scholarly works in the fields on archaeology, anthropology, development, international relations, economics and sociology. The collection has particularly strong holdings on South Africa, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.[50]

European Documentation Centre[edit]

The university became a European Documentation Centre (EDC) in 1975 and has one of the oldest and largest print collections of this material in Australia.[51]

India and South Asia collection[edit]

The collection commenced in 1985, when Greg Bailey and Chris Chartley began collecting systematically in Sanskrit literature, Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as ancient Indian history and archaeology. As of 2011, the collection has amassed 37,500 volumes. The collection is strong in the fields of humanities and social sciences, particularly the Indian official and census statistics, and the gazetteers of India as well as a significant number of resources on 20th century Hindi literature. It also features strong holdings in early Buddhism (including the entire Buddhist Canon in several Asian languages) and Sanskrit literature pertaining to Hinduism and belles-lettres.[52]

Latin American collection[edit]

La Trobe is one of the best research libraries in Australia in the field of Latin American Studies with approximately 28,000 to 30,000 print titles in the collection. The focus of the collection is Mexican, Brazilian, Cuban and Caribbean studies, United States-Latin American relations, and Latino peoples living in the United States.[53]

Music collection[edit]

The La Trobe musical collection consists of 11,000 musical score and sound recordings including: 12th century to 15th Century sacred music (in particular 14th century Gregorian chant); Jazz; Opera; Orchestra; Chamber, Strings and Keyboard works of all major composers; and Instrument and instrumental ensembles. Original collections of traditional folk music such as UNESCO recordings are also held in the collection.[54]

Student life[edit]

Student Union[edit]

For more information see La Trobe Student Union

During the 1960s and 1970s, La Trobe and Monash were considered to have the most politically active student bodies of any university in Australia.[55] The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) was a prominent organisation on campus, often with the cover of a front organisation sometimes encouraging the name 'La Trot'. The following La Trobe alumni were all good friends at the time and took part in student politics: Bill Kelty from the ACTU and Australian Football League Commissioner, former Treasurer Tony Sheehan, Don Watson, Geoff Walsh (Bob Hawke's press secretary), High profile union officials Brian Boyd, John Cummins and Garry Weaven, former federal treasury official and former Westpac CEO, David Morgan. Some other Labor figures and people from the left side of politics include Mary Delahunty, Phil Cleary and Michael Danby.[citation needed] Despite the general socialist/leftist atmosphere several conservative corporate/business figures and Liberal Party members have come from La Trobe.

Though the student body at La Trobe is no longer as politically active as it once was, the trend is similar at all Australian universities[citation needed]. Nonetheless, Socialist Alternative, and National Labor Students (NLS) are still very active, with both the SRC and Union President typically coming from NLS. La Trobe student organisations (both SRC and Union) were largely run by NLS over previous years, in coalition with various independent groupings.

The La Trobe University Students' Union is responsible for the Eagle Bar, Contact Student Services but its role has been considerably diminished as a consequence of Voluntary Student Unionism. There used to be three main student representative bodies on campus known as the La Trobe University Student Guild, the Student's Representative Council and the La Trobe Postgraduate Student's Association. The La Trobe University Student Representative Council, became the principal representative body on campus and a student advocacy group as well as student representatives for welfare, disability, women, queer, indigenous, environment, education and welfare and the Guild managed student services. In 2011 however, the Student's Representative Council, the La Trobe Postgraduate Students Association, the Students Guild and the university merged the three separate organisations into one body: the La Trobe Student Union.

The current President of the La Trobe University Student Union is Rose Steele.

The largest faculty-based student representative organisation on campus is the Law Students Association (LSA). Postgraduate students are represented in the new union. The students at the Bendigo campus are represented by the Bendigo Student Association (BSA), a much less activist and political organisation than the student union. The BSA publishes the 3rd Degree magazine.

1995 SRC election postal ballot incident[edit]

During the 1995 SRC election, there was a major scandal involving postal ballots sent to Glenn College. A group of four candidates associated with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) contested the election as the "Tin Tin for NUS" ticket. It was discovered that one of the students, Stephen Donnelly, had gained access to the postal ballots during the delivery process.[56] When challenged to explain their behavior, all four candidates withdrew their nominations. The deputy returning officer writes that the candidates Stephen Donnelly, Robert Larocca, Nigel Rhode and Robin Scott were charged with Dishonest Conduct and Interfering with Ballot Papers. He escalated the matter to the Dean of Glenn College and then the University Secretary but found them disinterested and the matter was never formally prosecuted by the police. Stephen Donnelly has subsequently become the Assistant State Secretary in the Victorian branch of the ALP.[57]


The union also publishes a student magazine, the notorious Rabelais, which was the subject of a Federal Court case in 1995 after the Office of Film and Literature Classification ruled that it "...promotes, incites and instructs in matters of crime" because of an article on shoplifting (reprinted from elsewhere).

Colleges and halls of residence[edit]

The following colleges and halls are based at the Melbourne (Bundoora) campus:[58]

  • Chisholm College (undergraduate)
  • Glenn College (undergraduate)
  • Menzies College (undergraduate)
  • The University lodge (postgraduate and mature-age)
  • Graduate house (graduate and mature-age)


La Trobe University is one of 36 universities across Australia that is part of the Elite Athlete Friendly University Network. The network was established by the Australian Sports Commission in 2004 to identify, promote and support the specific needs of university students who participate in sport at an elite level. As a result, an Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) program was developed and formulated.[59]

In 2011 La Trobe University was the reigning champion at the Southern University Games, having won the competition in 2010.[60]

The Sports Centre at the Melbourne campus has a fully equipped gym, squash/racquetball and tennis courts, volleyball, badminton, indoor soccer, netball and basketball courts, a 25-metre pool with a deep water pit, and dance and yoga studios. The centre also offers group exercise classes, dance classes, pilates and yoga. Tuition in most sports can be arranged and courts can be hired to students at discounted rates. The Centre also offers deep tissue and trigger point sports massage. La Trobe University participates in the annual Australian University Games[61] A-League association football (soccer) club Melbourne City have their training and administrative facilities based at La Trobe University.[62]

Arts and culture[edit]

David Myers Building

La Trobe began collecting in the early 1960s before construction even started on the main campus at Bundoora. The collection now consists of more has more than 3000 post-war contemporary Australian art works valued at $17 million[63] This is the second largest university art collection in Victoria in terms of collection value[63]

Art galleries are located on site at two of the university campuses: the University Art Museum at Melbourne campus and the Phyllis Palmer Gallery at Bendigo; the university also operates the Visual Arts Centre in Bendigo. The Melbourne campus has a sculpture park which includes the controversial upside-down statue of Victorian colonial Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe, by sculptor Charles Robb[64]

The La Trobe University Art Collection began in 1966, before construction of the first buildings commenced at the site of the University's major campus at Bundoora. Recognising the importance of an art collection within an educational environment, the University's Master Architect, Dr Roy Simpson, AO, incorporated the installation and display of art works into his overall vision for La Trobe.

Wwith Mr Frank Barnes, the university's first Business Manager, and the generosity of individual benefactors, Dr Simpson initiated the commissioning of paintings by Gareth Jones-Roberts, Leonard Lloyd Annois and Charles William Bush to establish the Art Collection. Major sculptural works, such as Allen David's monumental glass screen that graces the main entrance to the University Library, were also included in the original design. The further installation of sculpture in the grounds and paintings throughout the buildings were proposed in the original Master Plan, and were made possible with funds raised through the 1976 Retirement Appeal for the inaugural Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Myers.

Today the La Trobe University Art Collection is considered a major public art collection, comprising over 2,000 post war and contemporary Australian art works. The collection covers most media and periods of Australian art. It includes the largest holding of works by the Australian surrealist Bernard Boles, expatriate artist Allen David and the Etta Hirsh Ceramics Collection which consists of over 300 pieces.

In addition to an active acquisition program, art works have been acquired through an artist in residence program and sponsorship of public art prizes, reinforcing the University's commitment to the study, patronage and advancement of the visual arts.

Public accessibility to the collections remains a priority, with many of the works displayed across the University's metropolitan and regional campuses, included in touring exhibitions and exhibitions held at the La Trobe University Museum of Art and other venues[65]

The other campuses have easy access to local exhibition spaces. The Shepparton Gallery is located in the Shepparton town centre and was home to our 40th anniversary travelling art exhibition. Albury-Wodonga students can access Albury Regional Art Gallery. In Mildura, Visual Arts students present a final year art exhibition and there is also the Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival[64]


Melbourne (Bundoora)[edit]

Moat and George Singer Building, La Trobe University Bundoora Campus

The Bundoora campus is the foundation campus of La Trobe and was officially opened in 1967 when La Trobe began operations. The campus is the main base of all La Trobe's main courses except education, pharmacy, and dentistry, all of which are based at Bendigo. The main campus buildings were designed by Melbourne architecture firm, Yuncken Freeman[66] in a utilitarian, Post-War International style. Main campus buildings are connected by a series of raised walkways.

Bundoora has around 22,000 students on campus and therefore has many facilities such as restaurants, bars, shops, banks and an art gallery. The main library on the campus, the Borchardt, has well over one million volumes.

La Trobe University has three on-campus residential colleges: Menzies, Glenn and Chisholm.

Bundoora also has sporting and recreation facilities such as an indoor pool, gyms, playing fields, and indoor stadiums. The facilities are regularly used as a training base for the Essendon Football Club, and houses the administration & training venue of the new A-League franchise Melbourne Heart.

The Bundoora campus is home to the La Trobe University Medical Centre and Hospital. The Melbourne Wildlife Sanctuary,[67] part of the university, is adjacent to the campus.

The university is also home to the Centre for Dialogue, an interdisciplinary research institution which delves into certain intercultural and inter-religious conflicts, both in the domestic setting and in international relations. In March 2009, the centre attracted controversy in hosting a lecture given by former Iranian President, H. E. Sayed Mohammed Khatami (1997–2005).[68] Khatami emphasised the importance of dialogue between civilizations, especially in relation to quelling misunderstandings between the Islamic world and the West.[69] The Centre for Dialogue has also won acclaim for its leadership programme for young Muslims, implemented predominantly in Melbourne's northern suburbs.[70]

La Trobe University Research and Development Park[edit]

The R&D Park opened in 1993, adjacent to the Melbourne (Bundoora) Campus. Tenants include a branch of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the Victorian State Forensic Centre, a Rio Tinto Group research centre, Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the Co-operative Research Centre for Vaccine Technology and CAVAL.

In 2005, the Victorian Government announced that $20 million would be spent developing the Victorian Bioscience Centre and the park.

Latrobe University (Bundoora) is the largest university campus in the Southern Hemisphere.

Also on the R&D park is the Technical Enterprise Centre - a business incubator for new ventures in Information Technology, biotechnology and the life sciences.

Student radio[edit]

The La Trobe FM broadcasts from a studio on campus on the FM frequency. La Trobe FM broadcasts on relay with North West FM 98.9, 96.5 Inner FM, 3SER, Stereo 974, Yarra Valley FM, 3WBC, 979fm, 3NRG, FM 876 Network, Golden Days Radio, 88.3 Southern FM, & Eastern FM 98.1.


La Trobe Bendigo was established in 1991, initially as the La Trobe University College of Northern Victoria (1991-1994).[71] It succeeded 118 years of tertiary education in the regional centre, which began with the Bendigo School of Mines in 1873. The main site of the Bendigo campus, the Edwards Road campus, was established in 1967 under the Bendigo Institute of Technology (1967-1976).[72] While the Osbourne Street campus was established in 1959 under the Bendigo Teacher's College (1926-1973). Together these two sites are known as the Flora Hill campus precinct.[73] They were acquired by La Trobe University in 1991 after an amalgamation with the Bendigo College of Advanced Education (1976-1991).

The Bendigo campus is situated on 33 hectares of land, consisting of four sites - Edwards Road, Osbourne Street, the Visual Art Centre, and the La Trobe Rural Health School.[74] The Edwards Road campus is positioned three kilometres away from the centre of Bendigo and is the home of La Trobe's School of Education. The Heyward Library is also located there. The Osbourne Street Campus is predominantly used for examination facilities and is home to the La Trobe University Bendigo Athletics Track. There is also the associated Central Victorian Innovation Park, located on university land, which opened in December 2003.

Some of the facilities used in the 2004 Commonwealth Youth Games were located at La Trobe University Bendigo.

Between 1994 and 2005, La Trobe Bendigo's curriculum was separate from that based at Bundoora, operated by a multidisciplinary Faculty of Regional Development. All campuses could choose to offer individual courses from both Bundoora and Bendigo. This situation ceased in 2005 after the Bendigo campus formed part of the Melbourne campus structure.[72]


La Trobe has two campuses in Melbourne's central business district, on Collins and Franklin Streets. The campuses deliver courses in health sciences and law and management; and houses the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) and Mother and Child Health Research (MCHR).


The Albury Wodonga Campus is located three kilometres from the centre of Wodonga on a 26 hectare site. It used to be the sole campus of the Wodonga Institute of TAFE. The La Trobe campus was established in 1991. The campus continues to share various resources with the TAFE.

The A-W campus houses the faculties of education, health sciences, biology, business and others.


The Mildura Campus was established in 1996, co-located with the main campus of the Sunraysia Institute of TAFE. These institutions and other tertiary education and research institutions on the site share various resources.

A second Mildura City campus opened in 2006 in the old Mildura Cultivator offices, next to "Gallery 25", an art gallery La Trobe became involved with a few years earlier.


The Shepparton campus was established in 1994. The new $10m two-storey campus building at 210 Fryers St. was opened in late 2010.[citation needed]

Bouverie Centre[edit]

The Bouverie Centre (first known as the Collins Street Clinic) was established as a clinical mental health service for children and adolescents. In 1956, the centre was renamed the Bouverie Clinic following its relocation from Collins Street, in the CBD of Melbourne to Bouverie Street, Carlton. The Bouverie Centre made the transition from a child psychiatric clinic to the first family therapy centre in Australia in the mid 1970s. In 2007 the Bouverie Centre moved into a $5 million, state government funded, purpose built building at 8 Gardiner Street, Brunswick.

La Trobe University took over the management of the Bouverie Centre] from the Mental Health Branch of the Victorian Department of Human Services, and added to Bouverie’s name the subtitle Victoria’s Family Institute. In the decades that followed, the range of clinical academic courses offered by Bouverie expanded and to date, the Centre delivers a number of Graduate Certificate programs, including the Graduate Certificate in Narrative Therapy; a program specifically tailored for professionals working with people impacted by Acquired Brain Injury seeking to enhance their skill and confidence in working with families, and the nationally recognised Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Workers. The centre’s flagship Master’s level program is a regular feature on the academic calendar and we also boast a vibrant higher degree research program.

The Bouverie Centre has over 40 staff, with clinical staff typically working across a number of different service areas including:

  • Direct clinical services in family therapy
  • Workforce development; helping services build family sensitive cultures and deliver family inclusive practice.
  • Academic award courses
  • Professional development courses
  • Research, including a PhD program and program evaluation[75]


The Hotel and Conference Centre at Beechworth closed on 23 May 2011. This decision followed stakeholder consultation and feedback about the proposed closure from local businesses and the community.

The Beechworth site was once home to the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, founded in 1867 and later renamed "Mayday Hills Hospital". The hospital ceased operation in 1995.[76]

Planned campuses[edit]

In 2007, the university announced plans to open "learning nodes" co-located with the Wangaratta and Seymour campuses of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE,[77] and at the Swan Hill campus of Sunraysia Institute of TAFE.[78]

International affiliates[edit]

La Trobe offers a number of courses at several offshore sites. The courses are mainly in the areas of finance, economics, management, biomedicine, health and linguistics. These courses are mainly offered throughout Asia in countries such as China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Courses are also offered at a site in France.

La Trobe has affiliations with many other institutions around the world, where La Trobe courses are offered or exchange programs are offered. The majority of these partners are located in Europe and Asia. For example, a program with the Royal Institute of Health Sciences (Bhutan) gives Bhutanese qualified nurses the opportunity to obtain a bachelor's degree.


La Trobe's world rankings have fluctuated over the years, and appears to be strongest in the arts and humanities, as is demonstrated by The Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2004, La Trobe was ranked overall 142nd of the world's top 200 universities, and 13th in Australia.[79] La Trobe failed to make the top 100 in the world for any area-specific rankings in 2004, but managed to pull in 33rd place in the top 40 universities in the world outside Europe and North America.[80] Since then, the university lost a lot of positions in every field and it is now ranked out of the Times Higher Education World University Ranking at 375th.[81]

In 2005, La Trobe University's world ranking rose to 98th place, placing it as one of the top 100 universities in the world, and it moved up to 11th place in Australia.[82] It made a leap to 23rd place in the world's top arts and humanities universities, bringing it to rank 3rd best in Australia.[83] It also reached ranking status in the world's top social science universities, coming in 68th in the world and 9th in Australia.[84] It came in as the 86th best biomedical university in the world (10th in Australia),[85] and moved up to 29th place in the top 50 universities in the world outside Europe and North America.[86]

Research produced by the Melbourne Institute in 2006 ranked Australian universities across seven main discipline areas: Arts & Humanities, Business & Economics, Education, Engineering, Law, Medicine, and Science. For each discipline, La Trobe University was ranked:[87]

La Trobe was one of four non-Group of Eight universities ranked in the top 100 universities in the world in particular discipline areas.[88]

Discipline R1 No. R2 No.
Arts & Humanities 6 38 7 38
Business & Economics 12 39 15 38
Education 17 35 7 34
Engineering 20 28 21 28
Law 14 29 14 28
Medicine - 14 - 13
Science 11 38 16 35
  • R1 refers to Australian and overseas Academics' rankings in tables 3.1–3.7 of the report.
  • R2 refers to the Articles and Research rankings in tables 5.1–5.7 of the report.
  • No. refers to the total number of institutions in the table against which La trobe University is compared.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'The Coat of Arms was approved and the Chancellor was asked to write formally to the College of Arms requesting the Grant-of-Arms.'[1]:28
  2. ^ The Coat of Arms were granted by the College of Arms in 1966. "and assign unto La Trobe University the arms following that is to say Argent a chaplet of Common Heath proper tied with a Riband Azure and encircling in chief an open Book proper bound and over all on a Fess Gules three Escallops Argent And for the Crest On a Wreath Argent and Gules Perched on a Parchment Scroll an Australian wedgetailed eagle wings inverted proper supporting with the dexter claw an Escallop Argent".[2]
  3. ^ As the institution is named after a person and not a geographical location, the correct terminology is La Trobeana and not La Trobensis. For reference see Sandys and his preference for Universitas Yaleana over Universitas Yalensis in John Edwin Sandys, Orationes Et Epistolae Cantabrigienses 1876-1909 (London: Macmillan & Company, limited, 1910), viii.
  4. ^ The nickname Trobian (variants include La Trobian and La Trober) refers to the individuals who are a part of the university, while Old Charlie refers to the institution as a whole. For example: The opposition took on La Trobe University this week in Melbourne. It was a hard fought match against Old Charlie, with the teams separated by a goal at half time. However, the Trobians eventually gained the lead in the latter stages of the match...
  5. ^ The Melbourne Campus is situated on 267 hectares of land.[7]
  6. ^ 'Those that have come into existence since the sixties... have all been conceived in less wide-ranging terms than characterised the main universities that developed in the capital cities between the mid 19th and 20th centuries.'[9]:17
  7. ^ The La Trobe SRC handbook proclaimed 1970 "Year One of the La Trobe Revolution".[17]
  8. ^ The Australian in a tongue-in-cheek manner referred to the university as an institution 'caught between being a destination for non-traditional students and a home for highbrow bohemians.'[18]
  9. ^ 'In Britain, the Robbins Committee reported in 1963 on the need for the expansion of tertiary education in that country. During the 1950s in the United States, President Dwight D. Eisenhower moved with great speed in establishing a grand plan to vastly expand facilities for higher education including many new universities.'[1]:21
  10. ^ 'A number of these prospects were the result of submissions by local councils and other interested groups'[1]:23
  11. ^ "[P]robably the most distinguished name among Victorians born in Victoria".[9]:6
  12. ^ "'redolent of the Folies Bergère and prurient Parisian life' complained one who, perhaps more seriously, proposed 'Churchill' as an alternative."[9]
  13. ^ 'La Trobe enrolled at Magdalene College at Cambridge but it is doubtful whether he ever attended a lecture'.[24]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°43′18″S 145°02′52″E / 37.72179°S 145.047909°E / -37.72179; 145.047909