The University of Queensland Act of 1909

Although calls had been made for the establishment of a university in Queensland from 1870, the nature of colonial society with its heavy dependence on rural enterprise and manual labour discouraged the pursuit of intellectualism. Regionalism was another factor which hindered early advocates who insisted that Brisbane should be the seat of learning. When Sir Samuel Walker Griffith reignited the debate over the establishment of a university in 1887 it was not surprising that he looked to Midwestern American models with their emphasis on scientific and practical instruction directed towards agriculture and mining. Yet in the face of this prevailing anti-intellectualism a group of prominent public figures formed the Queensland University Extension Movement in 1893 which provided limited tertiary teaching without the expense of establishing a formal institution. The experiment proved successful and the movement gathered strength, with 149 delegates from the Queensland University Extension Movement attending a University Congress in 1906 where they produced a draft Bill for the establishment of a university. In late 1909 the government finally passed a University Act and made Government House available as the State’s first tertiary institution. Students began formal studies in March 1911. In the 1940s the university was relocated to its present site at St Lucia on land which had been purchased and donated by the Mayne family.


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