History

Deakin University has always been ahead of the curve. From being the first Australian university to specialise in distance education to becoming the university with Victoria’s most satisfied students six years running, Deakin has a long and illustrious history. Know where you’re going by learning where we’ve been.

Our history at a glance

Deakin has celebrated a significant number of milestones in its time. Year after year, advancements in technology, new academic and industry partnerships, groundbreaking research outcomes and innovative course delivery methods put Deakin at the forefront of higher education.

With five popular campuses – including the online Cloud Campus – multi-million dollar research facilities and technology-rich learning centres across Victoria, we've gone from local university to globally connected university. Deakin provides a world-class education wherever you are, whenever you want.

Read the timeline below to learn what keeps over 53,000 students so satisfied, and what keeps us winning awards.

1974–1979

1974
Deakin University is founded
Named after Australia's second Prime Minister (Alfred Deakin), Deakin was formally established in 1974 as one of the first universities in the country to specialise in distance education, and the first to be established in regional Victoria.

1975
Our first Council is created
Deakin's interim Council (the University's governing authority) is established, chaired by our first Chancellor, Peter Thwaites.

Six schools are set up
Our first six school were Business Studies, Education, Engineering and Architecture, Humanities, Pure and Applied Sciences and Social Sciences.

1976
Deakin's first Vice-Chancellor
Professor Fred Jevons was our first Vice-Chancellor and quickly became known as the 'father' of Deakin's distance education programs.

Study options given the green light
Deakin's interim council announces that we offer a range of courses with flexible study modes including on campus, off campus, and a mixture of both.

1977
Deakin's officially up and running with our first students
Our first 2445 students enrolled at the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus in time for spring classes.

First female Deputy Chancellor
Elspeth Hallowes (member of Council 1977—1990)

1978
Deakin University official opening
Although teaching began in 1977, the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus wasn't officially opened until 11 May 1978. During the ceremony, Peter Thwaites was formally welcomed as our first Chancellor by then Victorian Premier, Rupert Hamer.

1980–1989

1980
Australia's first university disability resource officer
Deakin hires a disability resource officer to help improve accessibility for students with disabilities.

Lectures on the move
On and off-campus students use audio cassettes to hear their lectures – a convenient way to catch up on missed classes or get a refresher.

1981
MBA off-campus course launched
The first of its kind in Australia, Deakin's Master of Business Administration (MBA) attracted an exceptionally high calibre of student with its flexible study mode and world-class program.

1982
A technological revolution
Deakin gets its own IP address, staff can email each other for the first time, and students are able to access the internet the following year.

1983
Second Chancellor appointed
Justice Austin Asche becomes Deakin's second Chancellor.

1984
Ethernet trialled
We get a sneak peek into life in the 21st century with a pilot student portal – the first phase of Deakin's Cloud Campus.

Speaker of the House graduates
Dr Harry Jenkins, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, graduates with a Bachelor of Arts from Deakin. He says that our off-campus mode helped him to study while working in Parliament.

1985
First computers purchased
Deakin spends $450,000 on computers, including a Unix-based Gould computer. At the time, the University's cutting-edge computers had one megaword of memory – roughly 100 word documents, or half a game of Angry Birds.

Transferable credit – a first in Australia
Deakin signs an agreement – the Toowoomba Accord – with the Universities of Macquarie, Murdoch, New England and Queensland, letting students enrol in the other universities' courses for transferable credit, a first in Australia.

1986
School of Nursing created
The School of Nursing became Deakin's seventh school, led by Dr Alan Pearson, the University's first Professor of Nursing. It meant nurses could be trained in universities, not hospitals, which helped us build strong links with allied health facilities and experts.

Deakin's second Vice-Chancellor
Professor Malcolm Skilbeck takes over as our second Vice-Chancellor.

First international video conference
Deakin took part in the largest video conference ever attempted. Four Australian journalism schools joined a live satellite relay connecting 180 journalism schools around the world. Students and teachers from the US, Britain, South America, the Middle East and Japan were also involved.

The Institute of Koorie Education (IKE) is created
IKE offers its first programs through Deakin University, helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to get ahead in further education without leaving their communities.

1987
Our third Chancellor is appointed
Jim Leslie takes over as Deakin's third chancellor.

1988
7208 students enrolled
7208 students are now enrolled at Deakin, with just over half studying off campus.

First female professors appointed
Dr Kerin O'Dea Deakin (Institute of Human Nutrition) and Dr Jocelyn Calvert (Institute of Distance Education) are appointed as Deakin's first female professors.

Australia's first Professor of Distance Education
Dr Jocelyn Calvert is chosen as Deakin's, and Australia's, first Professor of Distance Education. This innovative position marks Deakin's commitment to off-campus education.

1990–1999

1990
Deakin merges with the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education
Deakin teams up with the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education, strengthening ties in the Western District of Victoria.

1991
First computer-based tutorials for distance education
For the first time in Australia, off-campus students can check out virtual tutorials, helping them to engage with teachers and other students.

Deakin merges with Victoria College
We merge with Victoria College (Burwood, Rusden and Toorak campuses), strengthening our Melbourne presence.

1992
Third Vice-Chancellor appointed
Professor John Hay becomes Deakin's third Vice-Chancellor.

1993
Engineering a new future
Deakin's School of Engineering returns after a decade-long absence. The school was reviewed by the Fraser government in 1981 and subsequently closed down due to the enforced restriction of new enrolments.

1993
Deakin Australia formed
Deakin Australia is created (now known as DeakinPrime) – a professional services division for corporate sector students.

1994
Geelong's foreshore transformed
We buy the historic Geelong Woolstores building in 1994 and develop it into a new campus, which opens in 1996. The inspirational and award-winning architectural renovation totally transforms the foreshore.

Deakin signs world-first agreement with India
Deakin becomes the first university in Australia to open an office in India, reflecting Alfred Deakin's belief that India and Australia would work closely together in the future. From 1994, fast forward 20 years and Deakin now has over 50 partnerships with educational, corporate and research institutions in India.

Five-star thumbs-up for distance education
Deakin wins The Australian Good Universities Guide's 'University of the Year' award. The University is named the most creative and adventurous distance education provider in Australia for enabling students to study in ways, places and times suited to individual preference.

1995
26,573 students enrolled
More than 25,000 students are enrolled in Deakin, studying full-time, part-time and online courses.

University of the Year award
Deakin is named The Australian Good Universities Guide's 'University of the Year' for the second year in a row. The award is for leadership in imaginative and innovative uses of new information and communications technology.

Deakin Interchange Trial
Deakin Interchange was an early portal that let students access the Library, Internet and to manage their course work. The program could also be installed to access Deakin from a home computer.

1996
Education Channel launched
Deakin teamed up with the Victorian Education Channel to let students in Burwood watch first-year chemistry tutorials at Rusden. Students could also tune in for the interactive discussion show, Homework Hotline.

1996
Fourth Vice-Chancellor selected
The fourth Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University, Geoff Wilson, was appointed.

1997
Student information system launched
Callista, a student information system developed by Deakin, is endorsed by Oracles Systems Australia as its preferred system in the Asia-Pacific area. It wins a national gold medal from the Governmental Technology Productivity Awards the following year in 1998.

Fourth Chancellor appointed
Dr Richard Searby is Deakin's fourth Chancellor.

1998
English Language Institute opens
Offering language courses for international students, our English Language Institute was voted number one for student satisfaction, out of all other university-based English language centres in 2013.

Burwood Campus redesign wins awards
The Burwood Campus redesign wins the National Landscape Award from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, as well as the Royal Australian Institute of Architects 'Award of Merit'.

30th International Chemistry Olympiad
Deakin helps to bring the prestigious Olympiad to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time.

1999
International Fibre Centre opens at Geelong
Premier Jeff Kennett opens our International Fibre Centre, saying the facility has no equal in the world.

Joint winner of University of the Year
Deakin is the first university to twice win the University of the Year in 1999 and 2000. The Good Universities Guide comments on our outstanding education and training partnerships.

2000–2009

2000
Koorie Education wins Australian Award for University Excellence
The Institute of Koorie Education is recognised with the Award for University Excellence for work within the Victorian Koorie community.

2001
Excellence in research
Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia awards Deakin two national awards for excellence in research.

Deakin joins the University Library of Australia
Deakin students and staff can now borrow from any other university library in Australia.

2002
Award for Innovation in Learning
HOTcopy, an interactive CD-ROM that takes students through a 'virtual newsroom' was developed by the University's Learning Services and the School of Journalism. It wins the Australian Institute of Training and Development National Award for Innovation in Learning.

Libraries built in Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia and East Timor
The University worked with Rotary and UNESCO to build libraries in Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia and East Timor.

2003
Fifth Vice-Chancellor selected
Lawyer and Professor Sally Walker takes over as our fifth Vice-Chancellor.

Alfred Deakin Digital Archive
In partnership with the National Library of Australia, we digitised the Alfred Deakin papers, which formed part of the 100 year commemoration of his prime-ministership.

The Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) forms
DUSA was created by seven existing organisations merging to form the largest student representative organisation in Australia.

2004
Deakin Studies Online introduced
This is our single system for student learning and administration. We ask all students to take at least one subject online.

Geelong Technology Precinct opens
The new technology precinct supports biotechnology, nanotechnology, wine science and prototyping.

2005
Australian Award for University Teaching
Deakin's excellence as a leading provider of off-campus library services is recognised with the Australian Award for University Teaching.

Distance education recognised internationally
The Distance Education and Training Council endorses Deakin's academic quality and credibility as an international education provider.

Institute of Koorie Education wins Wurreker Award
Presented by the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association and the Victorian Office of Training and Tertiary Education, we also win this award again in 2009.

2006
Fifth Chancellor selected
Deakin's fifth chancellor, Mr David M. Morgan is appointed.

Launch of the DeakinMotion.Lab
Deakin's state-of-the-art motion capture lab is the second largest in the southern hemisphere (Peter Jackson's Weta Productions in New Zealand is first).

The Alfred Deakin Institute established in Geelong
The Treasurer and Minister of Education (Science and Training) together announce funding to preserve Alfred Deakin's writings and memorabilia, to further modern research and debate.

2007
Indian research facility opens and Brett Lee becomes the face of Deakin
Impressed with the Geelong Technology Precinct, Indian biotechnology company, Biocon, encourages Deakin to build a similar facility in India. Deakin becomes the first university to create a stand-alone research facility in India.

2008
Deakin's International Centre and Business building wins awards
Our International Centre and Business building wins three City of Whitehorse design awards: Best New Commercial Building, Environmental Sustainability and Best Landscape Design.

Deakin wins Victorian Exporter of the Year
Deakin's outstanding innovation and export achievement within education and training services, expertise and curriculum is recognised in 2008 and again in 2009. Deakin's Beijing office opens during this time to support this endeavour.

Deakin gets flexible
A new trimester system is introduced at the same time that wireless is rolled out across all campuses. Students can now choose when and where to study.

2009
Employer of choice
Deakin was celebrated as an Employer of Choice for Women by the Equal Opportunity for Women Agency (EOWA). We continue to receive this recognition up until present day.

2010–2016

2010
Sixth Vice-Chancellor appointed
Professor Jane den Hollander takes over as Deakin's sixth Vice-Chancellor and President.

Nano-Biotechnology Research Centre opens in New Delhi
Deakin partners with The Energy Research Institute in New Delhi to form the Nano-Biotechnology Research Centre.

Deakin at your Doorstep launches
This flexible and technology driven distance education initiative uses video conferencing tools to connect Deakin centres throughout Victoria.

2011
Most satisfied students
Deakin ranks first in Victoria and third in Australia in Graduate Satisfaction in the Australian Graduate Survey. We continue to rank first in Victoria for six consecutive years.

Australia's first UN Forum on Social Inclusion
Under the auspices of The Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin brings the UN Forum on Social Inclusion to Australia for the first time. President Jorge Sampaio, the United Nation's High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations, and Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, discuss the topic 'Building a Society Where People Feel Included'.

The Institute of Koorie Education (IKE) celebrates 25 years
For a quarter of a century, IKE has been helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to get ahead in further education, without having to leave their communities.

2012
Agenda 2020: LIVE the Future
Our new strategic plan LIVE – Learning, Ideas, Values and Experience – reaffirms Deakin's commitment to:

  • drive the digital frontier
  • enable globally connected education for the jobs of the future
  • enable research that makes a difference to the communities we serve.

2013
Deakin's First Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
In its first month, the Deakin MOOC rates 34 on the global list of 99 Best Resources on open courseware. Our first MOOC on Humanitarian Assistance has served as a testbed for innovation in learning and assessement.

World's first one piece carbon-fibre wheel
The Australian Future Fibre Research Innovation Centre in Deakin's Geelong Innovation Precinct is literally reinventing the wheel – using lightweight and efficient carbon-fibre.

2013
A five-star university
Deakin was awarded a five star rating by the prestigious university ranking organisation Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). The rating indicates Deakin is world-class in a broad range of areas, has cutting-edge facilities and is internationally renowned for its research and teaching standards. Deakin's MBA course also holds a five-star rating from the Graduate Management Association of Australia.

2014
The Sport Business International 2014 Postgraduate Sports Course Rankings
Deakin's Master of Business (Sport Management) places third, globally. We are the only Australian university to be placed in the top 25. 

IBM Watson partnership
Deakin enters into a partnership with IBM Watson, a world-first initiative providing personalised advice to students 24/7, 365 days a year.

MOOC wins an eLearning excellence award
The Deakin Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) wins the Higher Education sector award at the eLearning Industry Association excellence awards.

Deakin's 200,000th student graduates 
Gloria Nyanja from Kenya becomes Deakin's 200,000th graduate. She graduates with a Master in Public Health.

2015
World-class research
The Australian Government's Excellence in Research (ERA) initiative ranks 90 per cent of Deakin's research as being either world-class or above world standards.

World-renowned research
For the first time, Deakin's research is rated in the top three per cent of the world rankings in the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Appointment of a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Employment)
Deakin appoints Professor Dineli Mather as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Employment). We are the first university in Australia to make such an appointment.

Deakin wins education 'Oscar'
Deakin receives international recognition in the prestigious QS Wharton Stars Reimagine Education Global Awards for innovative higher education pedagogies enhancing learning and employability – the 'Oscars' of innovation in education. Deakin won the gold global award in 2015 and the Oceania regional award in 2014. 

Education and Training Provider of the Year
For the second year running, Deakin is named Education and Training Provider of the Year in the 2015 Governor of Victoria's Export Awards.

2016
Winner of the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings
The QS Distance Online MBA Rankings place Deakin's MBA first in Australia and 16th globally.