La Trobe University

La Trobe University is an Australian multi-campus public research university with its flagship campus located in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora. The university was established in 1964, becoming the third university in the state of Victoria and the twelfth university in Australia. La Trobe is one of the Australian verdant universities and also part of the Innovative Research Universities group.

La Trobe University
Latin: Universitas La Trobeana [Note 1]
MottoQui cherche trouve (French)
Motto in English
"Whoever seeks shall find"
TypePublic research-intensive university
Established9 December 1964
ChancellorJohn Brumby[1]
Vice-ChancellorJohn Dewar
Academic staff
Administrative staff
CampusMetropolitan and regional
(Melbourne campus)
267 hectares (2.7 km2)
Named afterCharles La Trobe
      La Trobe red
          Grey (white) [Note 2]
      La Trobe red
      Black [Note 3]
NicknameLa Trobians and
Old Charlie[Note 4]
AffiliationsUniversities Australia, Innovative Research Universities (IRU)
MascotWedge-tailed eagle[7]

La Trobe's original and principal campus is located in the Melbourne metropolitan area, within the northern Melbourne suburb of Bundoora. It is the largest metropolitan campus in the country, occupying over 267 hectares (660 acres).[8] It has two other major campuses located in the regional Victorian city of Bendigo and the twin border cities of Albury-Wodonga. There are two smaller regional campuses in Mildura and Shepparton and a city campus in Melbourne's CBD on Collins Street and in Sydney on Elizabeth Street.

La Trobe offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses across its two colleges of Arts, Social Science and Commerce (ASSC) and Science, Health and Engineering (SHE).

In 2015, it was ranked in the top 100 universities under 50 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[9] 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.


The university was established in 1964 following the assent of the La Trobe University Act by Victorian Parliament on 9 December 1964. The passing of the Act of Victorian Parliament to establish La Trobe University followed earlier University Acts to establish the University of Melbourne (1853) and Monash University (1958).[10]: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",[11] 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.[10]: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.[12]


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 5] 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.[13]: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.[13]: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.[13]: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.'[13]: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.[13]:21–22


Third University Committee

In April 1964, Sir Archibald Glenn was invited by the Victorian Premier, Sir Henry Bolte, to chair a "Third University Committee".[13]:23 In addition to Glen, 13 other members were announced on 21 May 1964. The committee, therefore, consisted of:[14]

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.[13]:23

Selecting the site

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 6]

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.[10]:5

A subcommittee, headed by 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 so an alternative area was sought.[10]:5 An early list of possibilities read:

Outer - Bundoora, Lilydale. Inner - Burnley Horticultural College, Wattle Park, Caulfield Racecourse, Kew Mental Asylum[10]: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.[10]:6

The "ultimate choice" was unanimously agreed upon by the end of July, resulting in the farm attached to the Mont Park Asylum. 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.[13]:23

Naming the university

While it was an interesting interpretation of a "local name", La Trobe, proposed by Fitzpatrick,[15] was agreed unanimously upon by the planning committee after some alternatives, such as Deakin, were "thoughtfully put aside".[Note 7] Victorian State Parliamentarians, however, were far from unanimous when they came to debate the La Trobe University Bill.[Note 8]

Sir Archibald Glenn, chairman of the committee, provided a concise summary as to 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 9] 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.'[13]: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."[17]:39–40

Although La Trobe, like his father, used "La Trobe" and "Latrobe" interchangeably,[18] the committee selected the spelling that was predominantly used by his side of the family.[18]

Interim council

Following the passing of the La Trobe University Act, the interim council was established in December 1964. Aside from Sir Michael Chamberlin and Kathleen Fitzpatrick, who indicated they were unavailable, all members of the Third University Committee were appointed to the interim council, with Sir Archibald Glenn remaining as chairman.[14] Additional members of the interim council were:

Sir Thomas Cherry died late in 1966, prior to the final meeting of the Interim Council.[14] All other members automatically became members of council upon its establishment with the first meeting held on 19 December 1966. It was this meeting that Sir Archibald was elected as chancellor of the university.[14]

La Trobe eras

The concept of the "La Trobe eras" was first coined by William Breen and John Salmond in the university's 25th anniversary history, Building La Trobe University: Reflections on the first 25 years 1964–1989. It is used to refer to La Trobe in periods of 25 years, following the year of establishment in 1964 rather than the year of opening in 1967.[Note 12] As of 2015, La Trobe is currently in its third era.

First era: 1964–1989

La Trobe University was officially opened by the Victorian premier, Sir Henry Bolte, on 8 March 1967 at a ceremony that was attended by a number of dignitaries including former Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Menzies.[20]:31 Teaching commenced at the Bundoora campus in the first semester of that year, with some 500 students.[10]:3 La Trobe was seen to be unique amongst Australian universities due to its school-based and collegiate structure. At the time, "this novel approach became commonly known in the university as 'The La Trobe Concept'".[21] 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.[11]

Up until the late 1980s, La Trobe focused almost exclusively on the liberal arts and science. This was complemented 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.

Second era: 1990–2014

The university established other professional schools, including its law school in 1992, which was previously a legal studies department which 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.[22]

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

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.[23] Around the same time, the university suffered cutbacks in government funding,[24] a problem experienced across most of the Australian higher education sector.

La Trobe has lost funding disproportionately 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; in 2004 the Geology Department was excised even though it had the highest graduate satisfaction rating in the country. The university's African Research Institute, the only major African studies centre in Australasia, was closed at the end of 2006.[25] 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"[26] to deal with diminished student intakes, falling entrance marks, below-par scores on student satisfaction surveys and a decreasing proportion of national research funding.[24][27] 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.[24][27] As of 2013, the university is operating on a 28 million dollar surplus.[28]

Third era: 2015–present



The Melbourne campus at Bundoora 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[29] in a utilitarian, Post-War International style. Main campus buildings are connected by a series of raised walkways. The Bundoora campus is the largest university campus in the Southern Hemisphere.

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.

The Bundoora campus is home to the La Trobe University Medical Centre and Hospital. The Melbourne Wildlife Sanctuary,[30] part of the university, is adjacent to the campus.

Bundoora also has sporting and recreation facilities such as an indoor pool, gyms, playing fields, and indoor stadiums. A-League franchise Melbourne City have constructed a $15 million training facility on the campus grounds.[31] Prior to the construction of its new training facilities, the Essendon Football Club had trained at La Trobe University during the summer.[32] Additionally the Sport Program exists to assist student athletes.

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).[33] Khatami emphasised the importance of dialogue between civilizations, especially in relation to quelling misunderstandings between the Islamic world and the West.[34] The Centre for Dialogue has also won acclaim for its leadership programme for young Muslims, implemented predominantly in Melbourne's northern suburbs.[35]

Research and Development Park

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, CAVAL, AgriBio and the Technical Enterprise Centre (a business incubator for new ventures in information technology, biotechnology and the life sciences).


La Trobe Bendigo was established in 1991, initially as the La Trobe University College of Northern Victoria (1991–1994).[36] 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).[37] While the Osbourne Street campus was established in 1959 under the Bendigo Teacher's College (1926–73). Together these two sites are known as the Flora Hill campus precinct.[38] 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.[39] 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.[37]


La Trobe has a campus in Melbourne's central business district, on Collins Street. The campus delivers postgraduate courses.

Bouverie Centre

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.[40]


The Albury Wodonga (A-W) 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. A new two-storey campus building at 210 Fryers St. was opened in late 2010.

Former campuses

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.[41]

Planned campuses

In 2007, the university announced plans to open "learning nodes" co-located with the Wangaratta and Seymour campuses of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE,[42] and at the Swan Hill campus of Sunraysia Institute of TAFE.[43]

Heraldry and brandmark

Coat of arms

According to Glenn: "The Coat of Arms was approved and the Chancellor was asked to write formally to the College of Arms requesting the Grant-of-Arms."[13]:28

The Coat of Arms were granted by the College of Arms in 1966 with the blazon described as:

"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".[44]


On the crest sits an Australian wedge-tailed eagle, perched on a parchment scroll and clasping an escallop shell. The wedge-tailed eagle (aquila audax), being such a well-known Australian bird that is found across the continent, was selected to symbolise La Trobe as an Australian university.


The motto qui cherche trouve ("whoever seeks shall find") is taken from the amorial bearings of the La Trobe family - qui la cèrca la tròba (Occitan for "who seeks shall find"). In Occitan, la tròba means "he finds it", and in regards to the La Trobe family there is debate over what was the object of the search.[45] Such uncertainty is also expressed in the university's adaption, as John S. Gregory, an emeritus professor of La Trobe, phrased it: "what one actually finds is rarely exactly what one seeks or hopes for".[10]:17


Upon the escutcheon (shield), there are three main features: the common heath, the escallop shells and the book. The heath refers to the common heath (Epacris impressa), the pink form, or pink heath form of which is the floral emblem of the State of Victoria. In a sense, this floral symbol also reflects the university's attempts to cater to all Victorians. The blue ribbon serves a decorative purpose in tying both sprigs of heath together to form a chaplet. The three escallop shells upon a fess were taken from the armorial bearings of the La Trobe family and signify the La Trobe name.


The university has traditionally incorporated parts of its coat of arms into its brandmark. The first brandmark was heavily based on its armorial bearings, following the common university practice of using only the escutcheon and the motto. It is acceptable for a university to use the shield of Arms by itself, or with a motto. A university can choose how and where to display the different elements of its Arms.

Organisation and administration


The university has two colleges, made up of several schools, offering courses at all levels:[47]

  • 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

Central administration

The principal governing body of the university is the University 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.

The current chancellor and chair of the University Council is John Brumby, since 29 March 2019.

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.


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. The university had expenditures of $516.9 million. As of 2010, the university had assets worth $1.22 billion and an endowment of $267 million.[28]


University rankings
La Trobe University
QS World[48]400
THE-WUR World[49]291
ARWU World[50]307
USNWR World[51]535=
CWTS Leiden World[52]430
Australian rankings
QS National[48]21
THE-WUR National[53]20=
ARWU National[54]15–21
USNWR National[55]24
CWTS Leiden National[52]23

La Trobe University is ranked in the world's top 400 universities by all three major independent ranking agencies.

The University recorded a strong result in the respected Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)[56] - La Trobe University is now ranked at 307 in the world.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020[57] placed La Trobe at 291 and ranked it 52nd globally in the 2019 Golden Age Rankings Rankings[58]

The 2020 QS World University Rankings[59] ranked La Trobe University joint 400th in the world. These rankings placed La Trobe in the top 1.2 per cent of universities globally.

National Taiwan University's Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities[60] evaluates research universities’ achievements in scientific research by comparing the performance of scientific papers in each university for quality and quantity. In 2019 La Trobe was 462nd globally and 145th in the field of Social Sciences.

La Trobe ranks well for employability, as demonstrated in the 2018/2019 QS Graduate Employability Rankings[61] in which the University ranks 14th in Australia and fourth in Victoria (and in the top 300 universities globally). For graduate employment rate – the number of graduates in full or part-time employment within 12 months of graduation – La Trobe ranks ninth in Australia and 129th in the world.

La Trobe secured its position among the world's elite institutions, featuring 39th in the world in sports-related subjects, and in the top 100 global universities for nursing, archaeology, philosophy plus hospitality and tourism management related subjects (QS World University Rankings by Subject; Shanghai Rankings).[62]

The 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) report found that La Trobe's research was rated 'At world standard', 'Above world standard' or 'Well above world standard' across all broad and detailed disciplinary areas.[63]

La Trobe also features a strong Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program which was ranked 32nd globally by QS Distance Online MBA Rankings for 2019.[64]


La Trobe University is a member of the Innovative Research Universities, an Australian 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.[65] 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.[65]

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%.[66]

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.[67]

In August 2019, the University announced the "Shah Rukh Khan La Trobe University Ph.D. Scholarship," which would provide an opportunity for a female researcher from India to contribute to her field via a four-year Ph.D. degree in one of the following fields: health, sport, information technology, cyber security or engineering.[68] Khan's Meer Foundation, which supports and empowers Women, is in recognition of the scholarship, which will provide an estimated $200,000 (AUD) worth of support to the student for a four-year research stay at La Trobe's Melbourne campus.[68]

La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science

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.[69] It also contains two biotech companies: Hexima[70] and AdAlta.[71] 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 at the Bendigo campus.


In 2004 the Victorian Government identified a need to collocate its primary industries department's plant and animal science research capabilities with other research entities.[72] It committed funds for this purpose in 2005 and committed to a joint venture with La Trobe University to construct a bioscience research centre at its Bundoora campus. A key objective of AgriBio is to facilitate science collaboration between the University and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (previously DEPI).[67]

The La Trobe AgriBio building, on the south eastern side of the university, has grown into a structure of around 31,000 square metres and over three levels with a number of external buildings under construction such as a large glasshouse and poly-house complex. Construction commenced in May 2009 and was completed in August 2012.[73]

Australian Archaeomagnetism Laboratory

In 2011 the university, in conjunction with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences built the Australian Archaeomagnetism Laboratory (TAAL),[74] 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 and magnetostratigraphy) for understanding the age, palaeoenvironmental/climate context and site formation history of archaeological and fossil sites. The laboratory also undertakes other research with the Department of Physics, including comparative work at the Australian Synchrotron.

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".[75]

Arts and culture

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[76] This is the second largest university art collection in Victoria in terms of collection value.[76]

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.[77]

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, Roy Simpson AO, incorporated the installation and display of art works into his overall vision for La Trobe.

With Frank Barnes, the university's first business manager, and the generosity of individual benefactors, Roy 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, 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.

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.[78]

The other campuses have access to local exhibition spaces. The Shepparton Gallery is located in the Shepparton town centre. 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.[77]

In August 2019, an honorary Ph.D was given to Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan in recognition of his efforts to aid underprivileged children, in empowering women through his Meer Foundation, and for his contribution to the arts via superlative achievements in the Indian entertainment industry.[79] Khan attended the award ceremony at La Trobe's Bundoora campus, where he spoke to a sold-out crowd about women's empowerment and of his hopes for the opportunities his new Ph.D. Research Scholarship would provide for a worthy student.[80]

Student life

Student Union

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 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.


Rabelais Student Media is a student newspaper at La Trobe University, named after French Renaissance writer François Rabelais. From its founding in 1967, Rabelais Student Media has been run as a department of the La Trobe University Student Representative Council (now the La Trobe Student Union). The paper is funded by a combination of advertising revenue and a student levy. Editors are elected annually and serve for a single year.

Notably it was the subject of a Federal Court case after the Office of Film and Literature Classification ruled in 1995 that it "promotes, incites and instructs in matters of crime" because of an article on shoplifting (reprinted from elsewhere). This decision was later reviewed by the High Court of Australia.[81]

Colleges and halls of residence

The following colleges and halls are based at the Melbourne (Bundoora) campus:[82]

  • Chisholm College (undergraduate)
  • Glenn College (undergraduate)
  • Menzies College (undergraduate)
  • 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.[83]

In 2011 La Trobe University was the reigning champion at the Southern University Games, having won the competition in 2010.[84]

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[85] A-League association football (soccer) club Melbourne City have their training and administrative facilities based at La Trobe University.[86]


The university song is the tune of Marche Henri IV. The melody is originally from Cassandre by Thoinot Arbeau. There are many university chants that are sung at matches which vary between the sports clubs. The most common chant that is used by La Trobe teams is "LT Who? LTU!".

Other student-run activities include the La Trobe International Relations Associations.[87]



Roz Ward, an academic at the university's Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), co-founded a Safe Schools program for Victoria.[88] The program aims to reduce homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools. Research work undertaken by ARCSHS into same-sex attracted and gender diverse youth has helped underpin the program.[89] This program has created controversy. At a national symposium, Ward said, "When people do complain then school leadership can very calmly and graciously say, 'You know what? We’re doing it anyway, tough luck'! . . .'(It’s) not about celebrating diversity; not about stopping bullying, (It’s) about gender and sexual diversity".[90][91] The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and others have criticised the program[92] as "radical sexual experimentation"[93] which "exposed students to extreme material"[94] and asked for the withdrawal of $8 million allocated to the Australia-wide program.[95][96] ACL says the program instructs students how to use facilities that match gender identities, how to have anal sex[97] and how girls can bind their chests to change gender.[98]

On 16 March 2016, ABC news reported that a Liberal Nationals MP, George Christensen, had used parliamentary privilege to accuse the Safe Schools program of being linked to a "paedophilia advocate", referring to a professor, Gary Dowsett, and a report he published in 1982. A spokesman for La Trobe University stated: "We are appalled that a respected academic has been attacked using parliamentary privilege. This is a blatant attempt to distract attention from the independent endorsement of the highly effective Safe Schools program. We stand by the important work of Professor Dowsett and his team."[99]

In May 2016, the Victorian Government reignited its feud with Canberra over the controversial Safe Schools program, announcing it will publicly provide material about sexual diversity that had been deleted from the federal government's website, and an additional $300,000 a year to deliver the program in full.[100]

A children's story book, promoted by the Safe Schools Coalition, released in January 2016 and titled The Gender Fairy,[101] explains transgender issues for children as young as four. Ward compiled the accompanying notes for teachers and parents.[102]

Ward was suspended in June 2016 over comments she made about the Australian flag in a Facebook post, amid concerns her comments had the potential to inflame opinion about the Safe Schools program. The suspension was soon lifted, along with a statement: "La Trobe said it was not in the university's best interest to pursue the matter, but that it followed the proper procedures to suspend Ms Ward."[103]

Sexual assault and abuse

In 2017 La Trobe was reported as the worst university in Victoria for sexual harassment according to the Australian Human Rights Commission's national survey on campus abuse. Of the 947 La Trobe students surveyed, 30% stated they had been sexually harassed at university.[104] Under a previous 2016 FOI request, the university had stated there were only 7 officially reported cases of sexual assault, harassment or misconduct on campus, resulting in no expulsions and no suspensions over the previous five years.[105]

See also


  1. 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, accessed 17 Nov. 2015.
  2. Since the second heraldic colour is Argent, grey may alternatively be depicted as white.
  3. The use of black dates back to the early years of the university, most likely originating from the La Trobe University Football Club. When La Trobe first opened in 1967 its sports clubs used the University of Melbourne as a benchmark to emulate.[4] One outcome of this was the creation of the La Trobe University Reds and the La Trobe University Blacks in 1968, which was based on the University Blues and the University Blacks at Melbourne.[5][6]
  4. The nickname La Trobian (variants include La Trober, and to a lesser extent Trobian) 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 La Trobians eventually gained the lead in the latter stages of the match...
  5. '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.'[13]:21
  6. "A number of these prospects were the result of submissions by local councils and other interested groups"[13]:23
  7. "[P]robably the most distinguished name among Victorians born in Victoria".[10]:6
  8. "'redolent of the Folies Bergère and prurient Parisian life' complained one who, perhaps more seriously, proposed 'Churchill' as an alternative."[10]
  9. 'La Trobe enrolled at Magdalene College at Cambridge but it is doubtful whether he ever attended a lecture'.[16]
  10. Appointed to Interim Council in May 1965[14]
  11. Became a member on taking up appointment of 1 September 1965.[14]
  12. "This year (1989) will mark not just the first quarter century but the end of the first era of La Trobe's history. It is likely that the second era will witness the emergence of a very different institution, much larger, much more diverse in its offerings, and catering to a broader range of student needs than in the past."[19]


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