University Unlimited: The Monash Story

University Unlimited: The Monash Story

University Unlimited: The Monash Story

University Unlimited: The Monash Story

Synopsis

From student radicalism to global expansion, this is the story of Australia's largest and most international university. From its beginnings Monash has been a 'university in a hurry'. Born on the suburban fringe of Melbourne, it has reached outwards rather than gazed inwards. Over its five decades it has embraced the challenges of the age of sputnik, become a hotbed of student radicalism, followed by an equally radical turn to market capitalism, to become today Australia's largest and most international university. Thousands of students rode the escalators in the Menzies Building to stellar careers, among them politicians Peter Costello and Simon Crean, journalists Michelle Grattan and Jon Faine, philosopher Peter Singer, writers Don Watson and David Williamson. The Monash story demonstrates how universities have transformed Australia since the 1960s. Based on extensive interviews with staff and students and heavily illustrated, this is a warts and all history of a great Australian institution.

Excerpt

Monash is Australia’s biggest and most international university. Compared with other great universities, it is still young—just fifty years old—but its history belongs to the most momentous chapter in the 1000-year evolution of higher learning. In that half-century, universities have been transformed from academic enclaves educating small elites into comprehensive educational and research institutions serving the complex needs of entire societies. Few universities exemplify that transformation as well as Monash. Founded in 1958, at the threshold of the space age, it aspired to be modern in everything, from its starkly modernist architecture and experimental approach to learning, to its commitment to marry the humanities and sciences and orientate Australia towards Asia. Located on Melbourne’s suburban frontier, it soon became Australia’s first drive-in university. It was the most striking Australian example of a new kind of higher education institution, the ‘multiversity’. By the late 1960s, the era of Vietnam, it was also the nation’s most radical campus, popularly regarded as a hotbed of insurrection. Yet only two decades later it had enthusiastically embraced the neo-liberal Dawkins reforms and the shift towards ‘the enterprise university’. Now, with students spread over six campuses and with footprints in Malaysia, South Africa, Europe and India, it is the most aggressively international Australian university. At every stage, Monash has defined itself by looking outwards rather than inwards, by embracing innovation rather than standing on tradition. To its admirers, it was ‘bold’ and ‘buccaneering’, a pacesetter for the rest of the nation; to its detractors, it could seem imperialistic, accident-prone and heedless of the lessons of experience.

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