In its report on 14 December 1973, the Federal Government's Australian Universities Commission recommended that a university be established at Geelong. This led to the declaration of Deakin University as a university in 1974, by an Act of Parliament referred to as the DEAKIN UNIVERSITY ACT 1974. Act No. 8610/1974 Ballarat and Bendigo became independent Colleges of Advanced Education.
Upon establishment, Deakin took over the Waurn Ponds campus of the Gordon Institute of Technology (now the Gordon Institute of TAFE), and that institution's higher education courses. It also absorbed State College of Victoria, Geelong (a teacher's college). Deakin enrolled its first students at its Waurn Ponds campus in 1977.
Deakin remained a single campus university for approximately fifteen years until the Federal Government's Dawkins Revolution of higher education in the late 1980s came into effect. As a result, Deakin became a larger university by merging with the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education in August 1990 and most of Victoria College in December 1991.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, debate ensued in Geelong about the fate of the city's historic waterfront woolstores, which were dilapidated amidst an area which was undergoing major development. Some buildings were demolished despite a community outcry, and the fate of the remaining buildings was unclear until Deakin University acquired the site for a sixth campus. Major renovations took place over several years, and in 1997, the Woolstores campus (now the Geelong Waterfront campus) opened.
The result of the developments created a large multi-campus university spanning 300 kilometres covering six campuses in the cities of Melbourne (Burwood, "Rusden" (Clayton) and "Toorak" (Malvern)), Geelong (Waurn Ponds and Geelong Waterfront) and Warrnambool.
In the early 2000s, the university decided to close the Rusden campus, which held mainly the Environmental Science Department. The campus was progressively closed between 2001 and 2003, with students and courses relocated to the extensively redeveloped Burwood campus. Rusden's buildings have been converted into student accommodation and now forms part of Monash University's Clayton campus.
In 2007, the Toorak Campus in Malvern was closed and sold. Its courses were moved to the Burwood campus.
On 1st May, 2008, Victoria's third Medical School was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Australia Mr Kevin Rudd and the Victorian Premier Mr John Brumby. There are now three Medical Schools in Victoria with the first being established at University of Melbourne in 1862, and subsequently Monash University in 1958.
The Geelong Waterfront campus is located in Geelong's Central Business District and it comprises a structurally superb set of refurbished woolstores buildings directly opposite the city's waterfront on Corio Bay. The refurbishments, which were undertaken throughout the mid-1990s, retained most of the original internal elements. The Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library and Costa Hall, 1500 seat concert auditorium are located here. Many public events take place in this Hall including graduation ceremonies and concerts.
Around 1800 on-campus students study programs in Architecture, Construction Management, Nursing and Occupational Therapy.
Deakin's medical school opened on the campus in 2008. The government's final decision to establish it was given by the then Prime Minister, John Howard who, in his speech delivered at the Victorian Liberal Party State Council in Melbourne on 8 April 2006, said: “I am particularly pleased to announce the medical school at Deakin University which will ensure the development of a strong rural and regional medical workforce throughout western Victorian region.” The medical school provides 120 Commonwealth supported places to successful applicants.
The largest campus of the university is in Melbourne's eastern suburb of Burwood, on Burwood Highway. Located alongside Gardiner's Creek parklands between Princess Elizabeth Junior School for Deaf Children on the North-West border and Mount Scopus Memorial College on the East border, it is Deakin's metropolitan campus, attracting 16,000 undergraduate and postgraduate on-campus students. The campus is well served by public transport and is about 45 minutes by tram (route 75) from the city centre.
For several years, the campus has undergone major capital works with the construction of many buildings. Recent developments include the construction of Building P (Arts) and Building T (Science) for the students who transferred over from the closed Rusden campus. Recent works on a new building precinct, including a new gymnasium, classrooms, lecture theatre and food outlets has been opened.
In addition to these facilities, Motion.Lab, an $800,000 24-camera motion capture studio, was opened in September 2006. It is utilised by four courses offered by the University: Interactive Media, Contemporary Arts, Information Technology, and Multimedia Technology, but its commercial activities are managed by Melbourne based animation-house, Act3animation.
The campus is located in an area in close proximity to the Great Ocean Road and the The Twelve Apostles. The buildings are all low-rise constructions of modern design. The sporting facilities includes a football oval and a 9-hole golf-course.
More than 3600 students are enrolled here. More than 2000 of the students studying at Deakin are studying in off-campus mode
The Rusden campus was closed in 2003 and all courses were transferred to the Burwood campus. It was subsequently acquired by Monash University for its student accommodation purposes.
The main building on the site is the 116 year old historic Stonnington Mansion and is located amongst traditional gardens. The Stonnington Stables art gallery and the University's contemporary art collection were located here.
The sale of the campus provoked public outrage as it involved the mansion which was at risk of redevelopment by property developers.
The first award came in 1995-1996 for "Outstanding Technology in Education" in which the then Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating presented Deakin with the award and commended it on its success despite its lack of "sandstones" referring to its short period of existence as a university.
On 25 August 1999, Deakin won its second award when it tied with the University of Wollongong to win the 1999-2000 prize. Deakin's success was for its "Outstanding Education and Training Partnerships". In presenting the award, the Federal Treasurer Peter Costello commended Deakin and Wollongong in stating: "These are two great institutions. They are the best of the best at what they do".
Deakin is Australia's fastest growing research university. Its combined research funding had increased from $4.5 million in 1997 to $22 million in 2005.
In its 2007 allocations, the Australian Research Council awarded Deakin $3.6 million in funding for research programs. A total of 15 discovery and linkage grants were awarded and will engage in issues such as the arts, citizenship, education, science, engineering and new materials.
In 2007, Deakin University was placed for the first time in The Times Higher Education-Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings. The list of the top ranked universities was expanded from 200 in 2006 to 400 in 2007. Deakin was placed at equal 374th. Four other Victorian universities were ranked in the top 400: University of Melbourne at 27, Monash University at 43, RMIT University at 200, and La Trobe University at 205
The Australian Good Universities Guide publishes an annual rating of the status and standing of Australian universities. The university's status and standing for each criterion was:
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, Deakin was ranked:
|Arts & Humanities||17||35||17||35|
|Business & Economics||15||39||24||34|
.**As Deakin's Medical School will commence operations in 2008 there are no data available.
Deakin ranks 24 in Australia, 29 in the Oceania, and 609 in the world in the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities:
Deakin has not yet been ranked in the world rankings produced by Shanghai Jiao Tong University
DeakinPrime is the commercial arm of Deakin University which provides education and development programs and services to corporates and industry groups.
Many large Australian and international organisations are associated with DeakinPrime's activities.
Approximately 65,000 students are participating in programs with DeakinPrime.
In 2005, an academic article co-authored by two Deakin staff, including Professor Mirko Bagaric, Head of the School of Law, suggested circumstances in which torture is morally justifiable. This was published in the Spring 2005 Edition of the University of San Francisco Law Review, and led to some outraged responses in the press. Vice-Chancellor Sally Walker defended the academic freedom of university academics.