Victoria College merger
Victoria College merged with Deakin University with the passing of the Deakin University (Victoria College) Act on 31 December 1991. Merging with Victoria College transformed Deakin in size, complexity, culture and geography. It also gave Deakin a greater national profile and presence in Melbourne.
Victoria College was a large institution with campuses at Rusden, Prahran, Toorak and Burwood. In 1990 the Director of Victoria College - Colin Campbell - initiated merger discussions with Deakin's Vice-Chancellor Malcolm Skilbeck. They formed a working party to advise on an association between the two institutions. The working party took a positive view, and on 29th May 1990 Skilbeck and Campbell signed a proposal document: Deakin University and Victoria College Statement of Vision and Opportunities.
Following this proposal, Monash University's Vice-Chancellor wrote to the state government's Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Joan Kirner. He voiced Monash's own interest in affiliation with Victoria College.
While the state government expressed no preference between Deakin or Monash as merger partners with Victoria College, they did confirm the government's intention that the Rusden campus become part of Monash University. This was in accordance with the policy of preferencing contiguous campuses in merger arrangements.
Although a majority of staff at both Deakin University and Victoria College appear to have favoured the voluntary merger, the Victorian Post-Secondary Education Commission opposed it. It believed that Deakin University should have a regional focus and that the Rusden campus should be transferred to Monash University.
Deakin wrote to the Minister reaffirming support for the Victoria College merger and expressing opposition to the removal of Rusden. Monash advised the Minister that it could not absorb staff and students of Rusden. It also did not want to be responsible for ‘breaking up’ Victoria College.
By mid-February 1991 the Victorian government plan was still for the Deakin and Victoria College merger to include the loss of the Rusden campus. The legislation was put to the Legislative Assembly on 16 May 1991 and included the transfer of Rusden campus to Monash. By the time the Second Reading debate resumed in the Assembly, on 4 June 1991, the plan changed and the Rusden campus was to become part of the new Deakin University. Swinburne University would take the Prahran campus and its courses split between Swinburne and the new Arts City.
On 31 December 1991, with the passing of the Deakin University (Victoria College) Act, Victoria College ceased to exist as a separate legal entity and became part of the new Deakin University. With the merger, Deakin’s student population grew to 23,000 and 2,200 staff.